September has arrived and while the summer season continues until the fall equinox on the 22nd near midnight, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, offering a taste of fall in the air.
September is National Preparedness Month. Given the recent hot dry summer weather, along with regional wildfires, smoke and air quality concerns thus far while watching other parts of the North American continent suffer excessive heat, wildfires and smoke, heavy rainfall and flooding, this kind of weather is a key reason to prepare for North Sound fall and winter weather in advance.
Now is the time to get ready for the potential of strong damaging wind storms, flooding and landslides, and lowland snow and ice. With three consecutive La Nina winters, El Nino is anticipated to return for this winter season with the potential of bringing these kinds of cold season weather.
To refresh, El Nino is when sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific Ocean tropical waters, the waters west of Peru, are warmer than average. The warming of these waters usually results in the North Pacific storm track spending quite a bit time across the southern tier of the U.S., from California to the Gulf Coast and the Southeast. La Nina is when those same tropical Pacific waters are cooler than average, resulting in the storm track spending more time in the Pacific Northwest latitudes.
El Nino winters tend to be warmer than average with no real trend for precipitation. Historically when compared to La Nina and ‘Neutral’ (around average tropical Eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures) winters, El Nino ranks last for significant lowland snow, wind storms and flooding. Even though the odds of these nasty storms are lower, they do and have occurred.
The wind storm season usually begins in October. The nation’s strongest non-tropical wind storm in American history occurred on October 12th, 1962 – the Columbus Day Storm. Winds in the North Sound exceeded 100 mph knocking down thousands of trees, damaging homes and utilities, and power was out for over two weeks. The region usually gets a strong damaging wind storm about every 10 years and the last one was the Hanukah Eve Wind Storm of December 2006. The North Sound is way overdue.
The flood season usually gets rolling in late October and runs through March. Flooding is number one for Presidentially Declared Natural Disasters in Washington. Given how a warmer global atmosphere holds more moisture, any storms that carry a higher volume of moisture can produce heavier rain amounts in the same time period. It is quite possible these wet storms could dump more rain and result in more significant flooding than in the past. This issue has been the case not only across the country in recent years, but also around the world.
The lowland snow season typically starts in mid-November and extends into March. Snow not only disrupts transportation, but often results in power outages as well. There are some El Nino winters that result in no lowland snow. Yet, of the top ten snowiest winters in the Puget Sound region, three were during El Nino winters.
Are you ready for these hazards or perhaps an earthquake too? Now is the time to prepare. For helpful tips and checklists for your home, car, pets and more, go to ready.gov or the CDC Winter Preparedness website. One key item for your home, business, school, health care facility or place of worship is a NOAA Weather Radio all-hazards – a life saver for the price of a pair of shoes. Remember, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared. To help protect you, your family and business, get prepared this month during National Preparedness Month.