A COMK review of 2016 Global Weather Events

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As the clock winds down for 2016 its time for a review of the weather events of the year to give a perspective on some unique happening and interesting events.  As has been the case the COMK Annual review of Weather Events will feature in two parts, the first one featuring Global anecdotes, and the second one featuring events from India.While this is by no means a complete dossier we have tried to capture a gist of the year that has passed by.

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The underlying theme during 2015 was one of Heat / Warmth / El Nino and the overall expectation was 2016 could possibly turn the tides around.  Instead on the back of the very strong Nino and the pent up Ocean Heat getting released into atmosphere the early part of 2015 saw scorching heat records being set.  As things stand 2016 could end up as the warmest year on record surpassing 2015 with many places in the globe all the way from Alaska to Australia seeing record temperatures during the year.  Places like Sydney are seeing temperatures in the region of 40°C already with the Southern Summer just showing up.

Whether it was the Oceans not wanting to give up or the atmosphere singing to a different hymn sheet a year which was expected to change in to La Nina became the year of La Nada. During the early months of 2016 most weather models were in sync for a strong Nina to follow the strong Nino of 2016 with possibly a multi year Nina evolving as the year progressed. Nature had other ideas as we are finally looking at the first few months of La Nina conditions and possibly a short La Nina episode that might continue until NH Spring before Enso Neutral conditions could return.

Staying in the same theme, North Pole has been seeing anomalously warm temperatures right through the year with places near the Arctic recording above freezing temperatures even as late as November 2016.  While a few thousand km south of Arctic Siberia was seeing record cold temperatures for November, North Pole surprisingly was seeing temperatures around 0°C at the same time. In what could possibly impact long time climate change pattern the Arctic Sea ice extent has possibly eroded the fastest this year and is at its lowest in terms of area covered as well.

2016 was unique in one another aspect as well, the year of Never ending Cyclones. Very early in the year on January 11th Hurricane Pali evolved making it the earliest hurricane on record in East Pacific while at the same time Hurricane Alex evolved in Atlantic making it the first time both Pacific and Atlantic had simultaneous Hurricanes during the month of January.  To cap of an eventful year Super Typhoon Nock-Ten made landfall on Christmas day making it the strongest ever tropical cyclone to make landfall at such a late stage of the year.  We also had during February 2016 Cyclone Winston become the strongest Cyclone ever in Southern Hemisphere when it made landfall over Fiji while Cyclone Fantala in April 2016 became the strongest Tropical Cyclone in Indian Ocean when it reached sustained wind speeds of 170 miles / hour.

During the year 2015 it was Chennai that saw repeated flooding as a once in a century rainfall brought the city to standstill and led to large scale flooding.  In 2016 it was Texas and in particular areas around Houston that saw repeated flooding between April & June 2016 shutting down the city a few times.  May be a parallel exists in the flooding of Houston &  Chennai, both flat terrain metropolis that evolved out of possibly marshy lands in the area and possibly growing much faster than what the environment in the region could sustain.  As more and more old timers say about both the cities seeing flooding like never before may be there is merit in the argument “Are these cities on the brink?”

In the same context March 2016 also some historical flooding in the Middle East with Dubai, Abu Dhabi coming under some severe thunderstorms and rains.  Bringing down the Emirates to a complete standstill as schools and offices were shut while people abandoned their cars under rising water levels the city that never sleeps had to take it easy till the water levels drained over the course of next few days.

Watch out for our India Weather Review 2016 in the next couple of days.

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