The recent heavy rains that have been experienced in Texas have left many local residents scratching their heads. The consistent downpours have caused extensive flooding and other damage, leaving communities reeling and wondering what is going on. The cause of the rains is a complex combination of factors, ranging from the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to the effects of climate change. It is important to understand the underlying reasons for the abundant rainfall in order to prepare for similar events in the future and to take steps to mitigate the impacts. In this article, we will explore the various causes of the recent heavy rains in Texas and how they interact to create such severe weather events.
Why Is Raining So Much In Texas?
Changes in Atmospheric Pressure
Changes in atmospheric pressure can be one of the top reasons behind unusually high rainfalls in Texas. This is because as the pressure rises, it becomes easier for water vapor in the air to condense and form clouds. You may be wondering what causes the atmospheric pressure to change. The answer lies in our understanding of El Niño. During an El Niño event, warm water naturally forms in the central part of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon is known as El Niño. But if you look closely, there is one big difference between the El Niño that occurs every two to five years in the Pacific Ocean and the El Niño that occurs every year in the Eastern Pacific. During an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, the atmospheric pressure around the Central Pacific is low. On the other hand, El Niño in the Eastern Pacific is associated with high atmospheric pressure. This difference in atmospheric pressure is what can be attributed to the increased rainfall in Texas.
Warmer Ocean Temperatures
Another reason behind the unusually high rainfall in Texas is because of warmer ocean temperatures. When ocean temperatures rise, the amount of water vapor in the air increases. This is what drives atmospheric conditions so that rain can form. Warmer ocean temperatures are already one of the top reasons behind the increase in precipitation in the US. Researchers have found that the incidence of heavy rain events has increased by as much as 19 percent in the past 50 years. The reason behind this phenomenon is our increased understanding of atmospheric processes.
Increase in Humidity
Humidity is the amount of water in the air. The amount of water present in the air is what determines the amount of rain that falls during a precipitation event. A state such as California is extremely dry, while a state such as Texas is extremely wet, because California has high humidity, while Texas has low humidity. When it comes to humidity levels, Texas is one of the least humid states in the country. When we talk about humidity, we are referring to the absolute amount of water present in the air. Humidity levels are measured on a scale from 0 (the least humid) to 100 (the most humid). The humidity level in a particular place is usually measured at a certain time of the day when the dew point (the temperature at which condensation of water starts) is also taken into account.
One of the top reasons behind the unusual rain in Texas is because of a phenomenon known as global warming. During the past few decades, the Earth has been experiencing a rise in temperature. This rise in temperature is one of the many effects of climate change. When the Earth is warmer, the amount of water vapor present in the air increases. The rise in temperature is one of the top reasons behind the increase in precipitation in the US.
More Active Storm Systems
The last reason behind the unusually high rainfall in Texas is that our atmosphere is experiencing a long period of intense storm activity. Storm activity is one of the main reasons behind the heavy rain. As we know, when it rains, it is the ground that gets wet first. The air above the ground is what is termed the atmosphere. So, the prolonged storm activity in the atmosphere is what is responsible for the unusually high rainfall in Texas.
Overview Of The Recent Heavy Rains In Texas
- The recent heavy rains in Texas were caused by a series of events occurring across the Pacific Ocean. In early May, the strong presence of sea surface temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific warmed up the air mass above it, generating strong low pressure over the Gulf of California and bringing heavy rainfall to southern California.
- This atmospheric flow was then tracked northward, lifting and cooling the flow as it moved over the Gulf of California and the coast of southern California. As a result, a sharp upper-level high pressure system formed over the interior of the Pacific and began to track northward in the atmosphere, leading to heavy rains in Texas.
- What is peculiar about this recent weather event is the dense concentration of heavy rain over a short period of time, which differs from the typical seasonal patterns of the state.
How Humidity Affects The Rainfall
- Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, which affects the amount of precipitation that occurs in different parts of the world. Humidity levels vary greatly across different geographic regions and seasons. In tropical countries, where the majority of the population resides, the majority of the precipitation occurs during the months of April, May, and June when the humidity levels are at their highest.
- In the winter months, when the majority of the population resides, the amount of precipitation is much lower. In regions like the United States, where the seasons are much more pronounced than in tropical regions, the amount of precipitation also varies greatly across the year in different portions of the country.
- The state of Texas, for instance, sees significant rainfall during the months of March, April, and May as well as in the winter months of December, January, and February. The variation in the amount of rainfall is due to the high level of humidity that exists in each region. The higher the humidity, the lesser the amount of rainfall.
The Effects Of Climate Change
- Along with the strong presence of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, the recent heavy rains in Texas also had a strong influence on climate change.
- Extreme rains are becoming more frequent in some parts of the world, and it is important to understand why.
- It is important to note that the recent heavy rains in Texas were not the first extreme weather events that occurred during the recent El Niño event. As discussed above, El Niño is linked to the effects of climate change, and this is becoming more apparent as time goes by.
How The El Niño Event Became More Extreme?
- Sea surface temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific are known to be extremely warm during the summer months. In the recent El Niño event, the sea surface temperatures were much warmer than usual and stayed that way for a long time, which altered the airflow over the Pacific Ocean.
- The airflow was then pushed northward over the western portion of North America, leading to heavy rains in Texas and extreme weather events in other parts of the world.
- The recent El Niño event is an example of how the effects of climate change have led to an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.
The recent heavy rains in Texas are a great example of how the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the effects of climate change can affect the amount and type of rainfall across a region. The El Niño event in 2015 was caused by warm sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which altered the atmospheric flow, leading to the heavy rains in Texas and extreme weather events in other parts of the world. During the summer months, the sea surface temperatures are expected to be warmer than usual due to the presence of El Niño. It is important to keep these factors in mind when preparing for the impact of heavy rains and extreme weather events in the future.