Hey folks! Sorry it’s been so quiet this year on the blog, but as several million people know by know, it was a very cloudy and wet year in Texas so far. In 2015 El Niño showed up in the Pacific ocean, and for about 3 straight months, the tropical moisture swamped Texas, my home state, and clouded out the days and nights for weeks on end.
The 2015 El Niño was so severe in my area, in fact that there were times that I completely lost track of what phase the moon was in, and even what the Sun looked like!
El Niño has a far reaching impact on North Texas
For a recap, I have included weather almanac calendars from wunderground for Dallas, TX and you can see what kind of cloudy hell El Niño caused for the first part of 2015!
June 1st is the 152nd day of the year when it’s not a leap year. Of those 152 days, 148 days had at least some overcast
Here is a breakdown of those days by the numbers:
- 148 – Days of at least partially cloudy skies.
- 70 – Days of precipitation.
- 31.63 – Inches of total precipitation at DFW airport (To be clear, I don’t live at the airport).
- 100% – Proportion of time spent in a bad mood because of the weather.
- 4 – Number of months I was not able to do any outreach because of total overcast or rain.
- 5 – Number of times that I have been able to setup my telescope in 2015
What is El Niño anyway?
El Niño is a sporadic weather phenomenon that occurs when the surface temperature of the equatorial Pacific Ocean warms by an average of 0.5C for three months. Once established, El Niño can last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. The cycling of El Niño to La Nina is known as the ENSO – which stands for El Niño Southern Oscillation. El Niño will influence the weather patterns around North America while it’s established. My research as not turned up any consistent examples of it influencing weather around Europe. For my English friends, your poor weather is likely caused by El Niño, too, but it may not be scientifically proven for some time.
Specifically for me, it means a higher probability of rain in the spring time. In 2015, El Niño was strangely strong when it was officially declared, and it’s timing was such that it created a monsoonal flow of moisture across Texas. The jet stream was also forced into a position by the 2015 El Niño which acted as a conveyor belt, bringing storm after storm to the region. In May, it rained for all but 9 days. April was not much better.
Because of the lousy weather, I had to spend my time blogging about my equipment, posting reviews about all the neat things I couldn’t use. It was the best I could do given the circumtances, and to keep reminding each of you that I’m still here despite the constant threat of my house being washed away by the torrential rains.
I’m finally drying out
Since the rain has ended, and the sun has come out, it seems that the ground will finally dry out. This is great, because as long as the short term forecast holds true, I’ll be able to go out to my secret dark sky site and see what kinds of deep sky objects I can image! My original goals for this year were to get the Leo Triplet, but that’s going to have to wait. I may try for some of the galaxies in Ursa Major.
Stay tuned, because I should be up and posting again as long as El Niño allows me to!
Clear skies (finally!) and thanks for reading!