I’m not one to taunt El Niño, especially in a season where forecasters have consistently predicted a strong showing, but two months of below-average rainfall have brought to mind the old lady from the 1980s Wendy’s commercial who asks, “Where’s the beef?”
February was textbook with a capital T for Russell, which almost nailed its average exactly (It hit just .04 inches above its 4.14 average.) Hartwell and Thurmond fell slightly short, collecting 4.58 inches (4.96 average) and 3.69 inches (4.3 average), respectively.
Looking back to the same month during the last two very strong El Niños, Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond received 7.8, 7.4 and 6.9 inches (’97-98), and 6.1, 5.8 and 5.2 inches (’82-83), respectively.
So perhaps this El Niño wasn’t as strong as it initially appeared or the precipitation will come later.
While the Water Resources Outlook for the Southeast hasn’t been released for February, NOAA and the Climate Prediction Center published a report three weeks ago stating that El Niño will continue to weaken in the spring but there’s still a good chance for above average precipitation and below-average temperatures in our region.
In addition, even though March is historically the wettest month for the basin, the last time the sub-basins exceeded their March average was five years ago.
When taken together, you’d think there would be even more reason for this very strong El Niño to deliver a wetter than average March.
Perhaps he’s still holding out, or maybe he just needs a little taunting.
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office