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El Nino may be a disappointment for the Southwest

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• El Nino turned out to be a wimp. • I am a bit bummed by El Nino’s lack of initiative. • His sister was certainly not shy about spreading her influence across the region for two long, hot, dry summers.

El Nino turned out to be a wimp.

Wouldn’t you know that a long-anticipated weather trend that promised to bring more precipitation and cooler temperatures to the Southwest this winter would sputter and promise little more than a normal winter—whatever that is. “Normal” weather in the Southwest can be best described as variable.

But I am a bit bummed by El Nino’s lack of initiative. His sister was certainly not shy about spreading her influence across the region for two long, hot, dry summers. And she offered scant relief through two droughty winters. I think Rudyard Kipling was correct in saying: “The Female of the species is more deadly than the male.” Works with weather, too, apparently.

I have to admit that I was not overly excited about the possibility of cold winter weather. I’m sitting here in my office on a day that’s supposed to hit 86, clad in jeans and a sweatshirt—my typical winter uniform. About 10 this morning I had to change from a tee-shirt and deck shoes without socks to this ratty old sweatshirt and warm socks.

I don’t particularly like cold weather, and I’ve already had enough. We spent last weekend in Northeast Tennessee visiting our daughter, her husband and the world’s finest grandsons. Saturday was pleasant, a nice breeze blowing through the valley. It was a good day to watch a soccer game. Sunday turned drizzly, windy and cold. I didn’t exactly miss those 105 degree days of July and August but a bit of sun and a warm breeze would have been nice. I was happy not to sit in that chilly environment to watch soccer. The fireplace took the chill off.

The other aspect of a cold winter that concerned me was the combination of precipitation and cold. That often means snow—or worse—ice. I don’t enjoy either all that much. I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to commute any further than from the kitchen—where the coffee pot is—to my office, a trip of a mere dozen steps or so.

I don’t play in the snow. Snow is cold. It hurts your hands. It gets into your shoes and turns your feet into centers of pain. I tried snow skiing twice and spent most of the first venture wallowing around in an icy puddle at the bottom of the bunny slope. The second attempt almost resulted in broken bones, but after a near-miss collision I left the slope to partake of the best reason to go to a ski slope—hot cocoa and a warm fire at the lodge.

Two years ago I was stranded on an icy road all afternoon as the temperature dipped perilously close to zero. That was not fun.

Still, I’m disappointed that El Nino, according to Texas State climatologist, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, will be a weakling. I was hoping for a wetter, if not colder, winter. I was looking forward to maybe one tiny snowfall the night before Christmas followed by a warming trend and a mild January and February with frequent rain events.

I had hoped farmers and ranchers would benefit from winter rains that recharge the soil profile and provide ample moisture for winter wheat, spring planting and a bit of reserve to get the crop up and growing before summer heat sets in.

Seems like the chances of that are, at best, 50/50.

El Nino, we expected more. You disappoint us. Go to your room—and take your sister with you!

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