By Ed Diokno
Emily Becker, who blogs for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, proposed – lightheartedly – that the current El Niño event taking shape in the Pacific Ocean be named after martial artist Bruce Lee. Here’s her reasoning:
What’s in a name?Tropical storms and hurricanes have been given names since the early 1950s, which helps to clarify communications. In recent years, the Weather Channel has attracted attention by naming winter storms, perhaps with similar intentions. “So why don’t we name ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) events?” you ask. Excellent question! I propose we do name them, starting this year. Since I think we should have a theme to the names, and the theme should be action movie stars, I hereby designate the 2015-2016 event as El Niño Bruce Lee.
Now, NASA scientists are saying the warm weather cycle is expected to unload its biggest punch.
According to its latest satellite imagery, the strong El Niño that’s been brewing in the Pacific Ocean has shown “no signs of waning” and is on pace to match or even surpass the 1997–98 El Niño event—the biggest ever recorded.
Becker’s very readable blog appears in the organizations climate.gov website. If you want an easy to understand reason for weather events without the political or too-scientific jargon beyond most of us, go to Climate.gov, It provides science and information for a climate-smart nation.
Since this year’s El Niño is expected to have a “strong” impact, that’s how she makes her connection to Bruce Lee; or perhaps this year’s El Niño will kick some ass. I might add that one of Lee’s most quoted pieces of advice, “Be the water,” has an application to this topic.
The name seems to have stuck. Climatologists refer to the current weather phenomenon as the Bruce Lee El Nino.
In that same vein that she proposed the naming of El Niño, she sparked some reaction which were pretty amusing:
So what’s up with the weather? It doesn’t take a scientist to note the higher temps, the drier climate (in the western U.S.), the melting glaciers, the rising sea levels and the spate of superstorms, hurricanes and typhoons that are ravaging our globe.
For California residents, Becker notes that even a strong El Niño is not a sure-fire drought-buster for California, so it’s not time to stop conserving water, especially given how entrenched this drought is (i.e. it will likely take more than one good year to erase). However, a strong El Niño does increase the chance of more precipitation overall during the winter, and also brings the potential for extreme rainfall. This may help alleviate the drought, but also can also lead to mudslides and flooding.
So at the Climate Prediction Center they’re not spending a lot of time debating about if El Niño Bruce Lee will be the strongest El Niño in history, or the second-strongest, or the third, etc. A strong event increases the probability that the U.S. will experience weather and climate impacts, but the strength of the event does not indicate directly to the strength of the impacts.