Coastal areas of California had a cool gray May while statewide rainfall for the month ranged from to zero to over 12 times normal.
A saggy trough of low pressure aloft made the marine layer a nearly permanent fixture for the month. Consequently cities near the coast were mostly 2 to nearly 6 degrees below normal, though San Diego managed to be just 0.6 below normal. Inland it was also cooler than normal in most areas, though Redding in the northern Sacramento Valley was three degrees above normal while Sacramento, only 150 miles to the south, felt the persistent marine layer and was 3.2 degrees below normal.
In San Jose, after an 84 degree max on May 1st not a single day exceeded normal. For the month San Jose's average May 2015 maxima of 68.6 degrees was 5.7 cooler than its normal of 74.3 degrees, the coolest May since 67.97 degrees in 1977. (Their record coolest May is 66.81 inches in 1915.) It was also the first month below normal in San Jose since last September.
San Francisco was similarly cool, with only May 1st topping 64 degrees all month. And it was the 1st time since September 2013 that the average monthly maxima was below normal!
The persistent trough also produced several significant rain events on the South Coast, with San Diego's 2.39" for the month was their wettest May since 2.54 in 1921, and 1292% of normal. Elsewhere rainfall was hit or miss and highly variable with generally drier amounts north.
Jan Null, CCM
Golden Gate Weather Services
Updated El Niño Climatologies
With many of the May versions of the SST ONI forecasts beginning to show El Niño strengthening well into the strong category (see below) I have updated a number of El Niño climatologies to add a "very strong" category. Each of the previous categories (Weak, Moderate, Strong) spanned a half degree anomaly on the ONI and it seemed logical to add a category for the next step of greater than or equal to an ONI of +2.0. See El Niño and La Niña Years and Intensities (ONI).
This moved two years (1982-83 and 1997-98) from the strong category to "very strong" and an examination of these two years understandably shows the most definitive signature for rainfall for California. [The 1972-73 season fell just shy of the meeting the "very strong" criteria, but certainly exhibited a similar very wet California outcome.] See El Niño and La Niña Winter Historic Precipitation and Temperatures and Climatology of El Niño Events and California Precipitation.
Important Caveat: These are climatologies of past events and are made up of a broad range of events from a small sample that are averaged together. Consequently, like all averages, this type of data should not be used as a forecast! Or as your stock broker says "Past performance is no guarantee of future result."
Updated El Niño Forecasts
The new mid-May plume of forecasts come out from IRI/CPC on Thursday (5/21) but many of the individual elements are already available and showing significant warming in future months across the eastern equatorial Pacific.
NOAA Ensemble Mean
ECMWF Nino Plumes
Australian BOM Nino3.4 Outlook
Jan Null, CCM
Golden Gate Weather Services
Even as temperatures are just beginning to rise this Spring there has already been the first 2015 juvenile heatstroke death when a 2-1/2 year old boy died last week in a hot car in Phoenix. But it doesn't even need to be a blazing hot day in a southern state for these tragedies to occur as evidenced by deaths last year in places like Oregon and Michigan on relatively mild days.
Most people may have seen media reports about an isolated incident or two of a child dying in a hot car, but when put into a nationwide context there is an epidemic. On average 37 young lives are lost every year in the United States. Since 1998 over 636 infants and children have died horrible deaths due to heatstroke inside hot vehicles.
These incidents cross every socio-economic classes, from professionals like attorneys, professors and dentists to white collar engineers to blue collar workers to the unemployed. Over half (53%) of juvenile vehicular heatstroke fatalities occur when a caregiver is somehow distracted and accidentally leaves a child in a vehicle, most often when the child was supposed to be dropped off at either childcare or preschool.
Another 29% of the heatstroke deaths occur when children playing in vehicles are overcome by the heat. And the saddest group is comprised of the remaining 17% of the children who died in hot cars after being intentionally left in vehicles by a caregiver who chose to run an errand, get their hair done, go to bar or the casino, etcetera.
Heatstroke (aka extreme hyperthermia) describes heat-related illnesses when a body’s temperature exceeds its normal range and loses its ability to cool itself. This is exacerbated in infants and children whose body’s heat up three to five times faster than adult. When a person’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees (the clinical definition for heat stroke) their cooling system is overwhelmed to the point it begins to shut down. A person with heatstroke may experience symptoms that include confusion, faintness, strong and rapid pulse, and possible delirium, hot dry skin or even unconsciousness. Continued exposure to very high temperatures can produce brain damage and other organ failure. At 107 degrees, cells within the body start to die and organs begin to shut down, quickly leading to death.
A car, truck, SUV or van heats up rapidly to lethal temperatures in a very short period of time. This author began research on the topic in 2002 that was subsequently published in Pediatrics and is continuing and kept up-to-date online at noheatstroke.org. The research found that temperature readings inside a closed vehicle peak at between 40 and 50 degrees above the outside air temperatures with about two-thirds of the rise in the first 20 minutes. Consequently, even on a mild 70 degree day temperatures can reach readings that can be fatal to an infant or small child. The research also found that “cracking” the windows had a negligible effect on the temperature.
This research has become a “go to” source on the topic and is used worldwide. It is hope that interest in this sad topic will raise the level of interest and awareness and ultimately to save some innocent lives. The bottom line is that each and every one of these deaths
is 100% preventable. Infants and children are the most precious cargo that is ever transported in a vehicle and we should always be cognizant of the potential dangers to a child left alone in a car.
Please take a moment to share this information either personally or via social media with your family, friends and colleagues. It might save a life.
Jan Null, CCM
San Jose State University
- this is only a forecast of SST conditions
- not all El Ninos are the same
- see Myths and Realities of El Nino