Saturday, June 15, 2013

Callous amusement and display of meteorological ignorance from Anthony Watts

Sou | 9:53 AM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

Here is yet another display of ignorance from ex-weather announcer Anthony Watts.

It's also one thing to be a disinformation propagandist but it seems to me to be particularly poor taste to be so insensitive to other people's suffering.

Is it an attempt to distract from the extreme weather in the USA?  It's been the driest year to date on record in California and then there is the horrible fire in Colorado this week and its record-breaking hot weather.

No, Anthony, there is no La Niña

Here is a snapshot of an article from today. (Click any image to enlarge).

For someone who used to earn a crust by announcing weather on television, not to mention blogging about "weather and climate" for the past six and a half years, you'd think some knowledge of weather would have rubbed off.  But no, Anthony says there is currently a La Niña and that it's been in place for two years.

No Anthony, it's been well over a year since the end of the last La Niña   The most recent La Niña started to form in October 2011 and persisted until March 2012.  It was pretty well back to back with another La Niña that started to firm up back in July 2010 and finished in May 2011. Conditions have been ENSO neutral since the 27 March 2012 at the latest.  Here is the official notification of it ending, from the Bureau of Meteorology:

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

In its latest ENSO wrap-up, the Bureau states:
All atmospheric and oceanic indicators of ENSO have remained neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) since mid-2012. While most models suggest that neutral conditions will continue in 2013, it remains possible that a La Niña event could develop later in the year.
The ENSO state is mostly indicated by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).  From the Bureau again (on the SOI tab):
Sustained positive values of the SOI above +8 may indicate a La Niña event, while sustained negative values below −8 may indicate an El Niño event. Values of between about +8 and −8 generally indicate neutral conditions.
And more here:
The Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI, gives an indication of the development and intensity of El Niño or La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean. The SOI is calculated using the pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin. ...Sustained positive values are indicative of La Niña conditions, and sustained negative values indicative of El Niño conditions.

Here is a chart of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) from the Bureau, going back to 2008:

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

The closest it came to a La Niña was back in March this year when the SOI briefly rose about +8, but there was no suggestion that one was about to develop.

Why the persistent drought in the USA when it's ENSO neutral?

Source: National Drought Forum Report
Why then is the drought persisting across 44.1% of the contiguous USA?  Well the tweet that Anthony mocked had a link to the NDIS website, which then led to a report released last month on 16 May 2013.  That report  talked a lot about the current drought and how to respond.  But it didn't discuss what is causing the drought.  About the closest it came was this sentence on page 7 of the report:
The Administration is considering the relevance of climate change as it relates to drought, and the corresponding need for adaptation strategies and strategies for protecting fresh water resources.

Obviously anthropogenic global warming.is affecting all weather around the world today.  Researchers have attempted to determine the extent to which it contributed to the drought in Texas.  Peterson et al (2012) is one such study.  In that report there is a section on the drought in Texas, which concludes with:
Hence, while we can provide evidence that the risk of hot and dry conditions has increased, we cannot say that the 2011 Texas drought and heat wave was "extremely unlikely" (in any absolute sense) to have occurred before this recent warming.
The questions of importance include:
  • Will extremes of weather get more extreme?  The answer is obviously yes when it comes to heat and precipitation events.
  • How will the different climate zones change over time?  Will parts of the USA become more prone to drought or flood?  Probably, is what I gather.

No, Anthony - it's not "variance"

As for Anthony Watts, you'd have thought in his years as a weather announcer he'd have picked up some knowledge of weather and ENSO.  Instead of admitting he was wrong, he writes this:
skSK says:
June 14, 2013 at 11:34 am Your ENSOMETER signals neutral
REPLY: Yes, that’s called “variance”. It changes from week to week. Check the Enso page: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/climatic-phenomena-pages/enso/ -Anthony
No, Anthony.  Wrong again.  ENSO is a sustained period, it doesn't "change from week to week" at all.

Finally...but too little too late

Finally, just as I was about to publish this article, I see that Anthony grudgingly admits his mistake, writing:
Anthony Watts says:
June 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm  I’ve changed the headline to more accurately reflect the history.
So here is the new headline, but still with the comment about the "La Niña pattern" and this time trying to pin the extended drought on the absence of El Niño.  Not good enough, Anthony!

Is WUWT on its last legs?

With the spate of idiotic articles lately and his reliance on nincompoops like Monckton (even promoting his nonsense to "sticky" status), and now manufacturing a La Niña as a "reason" for the continued US drought - it looks as if WUWT is on its last legs.  A refuge for the 8% Dismissives.  That's all.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Reginald, the original headline is up top, the changed headline is down the bottom.

      Watts has shifted from blaming it on La Nina to blaming it on an absence of El Nino! Not good enough. He should know better than that. While El Nino typically brings more rain to much of the USA, a lack of El Nino does not cause extended drought.

      This year there has been record wet and record dry in different parts of North America. And no ENSO event.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Mr. Watts performs a valuable service by providing concrete examples of the ancient wisdom:

    "When the evidence is inescapable, the host man backs down while the bullsh*tter doubles-down".

    I doubt, however, that his blog is in danger of folding. The core group will always be there for their daily affirmation wherein the global warming hoax is exposed at breakfast, scien-terrifically crushed at lunch, and final-nailed into its coffin at dinner.


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