I have been focusing quite closely on the developing El Nino in order to get a handle on upcoming winter trends in the U.S., particularly here in the Midwest. Many people could use a more accurate long term outlook in order to plan, energy bills, vacations, or major purchases.
A moderate to strong El Nino will usually give us a little more certainty. It would typically mean wetter and colder weather for the southwestern U.S. and California could really use a wetter than normal winter. Here in the upper Midwest, a moderate to strong El Nino usually means a milder and drier winter. A weak El Nino does not affect our winter weather too much.
The current El Nino pattern has not yet reached a moderate level. Here is a recent discussion about this year’s El Nino, where a couple El Nino experts are hedging their bets as to whether this El Nino will grow in strength. If it does not, then it is more likely (though not guaranteed) that we will have more normal winter conditions. In the article are images comparing the strength of this year’s El Nino and the El Nino of 1997-98. The contrast is quite dramatic. The monthly El Nino discussion will arrive in a week to 10 days and we will get a better read on any strengthening.
In the short term, it will surely feel more like winter outside today. The weather has changed quickly and it looks like we will have our first hard frost of the Fall season tonight. A FREEZE WARNING is in effect for areas north of Marathon county for tonight. A FROST ADVISORY is in effect for the rest of central and southern Wisconsin. We might have a touch of frost on Wednesday night into Thursday morning as well. Overall, it looks like cooler than normal weather will continue for the next week to 10 days.
NASA’s LCROSS probe is aiming for a different lunar crater. The original crater was judged to have too many “negatives” for getting a good result of water detection. The new crater increases the odds of a “good find”. In case you were unaware, the LCROSS mission includes sending an impactor into the lunar surface. Instruments will then analyze the ejecta (debris that flies into the air) and see if there is water. This event is planned for October 9th. Hopefully they will get some good video and pictures. There is nothing like smashing objects into one another. The Deep Impact mission was spectacular.
When it comes to humans traveling to Mars, one of the main negative factors is time. Most experts estimate it will take a little more than 500 days. Here is an old concept “the two burn” that could cut the time of the trip in half. However, it does require fueling up in space (near the moon), and then there is the matter of getting back to earth.
This story about a potential new dark matter/energy detector brought up some old question marks (in my mind anyway), about the nature and evolution of the universe. I am willing to mostly accept the standard theory of the universe and its evolution (Big bang and expansion), however, when 95% of the universe is still undetectable, even after years of searching with our most advanced instruments, it doesn’t boost my confidence very much. Lingering in the recesses of my mind is the elegant “constant creation” theory proposed by Fred Hoyle. For those who are a bit skeptical, another theory has been proposed to explain away the “95%-of-the-universe-is-undetectable-for-years-on-end” problem. This one, proposed by mathematicians, claims a large wave in space-time is making distant galaxies appear to speed up.
Have a good Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on September 29, 2009