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The Year of the Puddle

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In China this is the year of the Tiger. Here in South Texas it is the year of the puddle.

We are in temporary digs at our winter resort. We sold the improvements on our home lot for the last several years and moved to a different lot until we can get a mobile home on what will become our home address in coming years. So, we are right across the street from the office and community room near the entrance of the park. It is the "oldest" part of the park and the roads are beginning to show it. Now in a normal year, you wouldn't notice, but the winter of 2009-2010 hasn't been normal.

If you haven't heard, this winter has been an El Niño year. A surface current in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean has disrupted normal weather patterns and everyone notices this in one way or another. Southern California gets heavy rainfall. There is flooding Las Vegas. Record snowfalls are recorded across the United States and snow is falling in unusual places.

El Niño, for those who aren't familiar with it, is an unusually warm surface temperature that occurs every few years. This year, the outbreak has been characterized by a very strong (5 degrees above normal), long-lasting outbreak that covers a very large area. You can learn more about El Niño at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration web site. Click on the words El Niño in blue and you'll see a depiction of the recent activity.

The good news is that the temperature difference is currently about 4 degrees above normal for most of the warmest area. That is a tiny bit closer to normal! Funny how all that warm water way out there in the Pacific Ocean could dump so much snow and rain on the U.S. It just illustrates the complexity of the climate and weather of this wonderful planet Earth.

So all that has translated into this puddle in front of our motorhome. It fluctuates, one day small, the next day large. Once in a while it disappears only to pop up again the next day. The puddle comes from rain that doesn't drain away. Instead it drains into the road and there it sits in low spots. When we leave the coach we have to plot a course around the puddle or in some cases between puddles. This contrasts with last year when we had hardly any rain at all. We were constantly under fire hazard warnings and open burning was prohibited for weeks at a time.

We've had plenty of rain here in South Texas this winter. Despite all the rain and the puddle, we know we have it good. A phrase often heard around the park is, "At least we don't have to shovel it!" As long as El Niño continues we can all expect unusual and extreme weather. It could be a real exciting spring!

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