Ecuador: Rain and Drought


Ecuador goes through periods of rain and drought, but we can look at Ecuador’s weather for more, even clues about the Western U.S. droughts.

el nino

el nino

The chart from NOAA above shows changes in the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) (1).  You can see a complex scientific explanation of what this means but in simple terms, red represents a period when the El Niño current is warmer than normal and blue a period when the El Niño current is cooler than normal.  A warmer period brings rain (and potential flooding) in Ecuador.  A cooler period creates dryer conditions in Ecuador.  This pattern in turn has an impact on weather north.

I began checking this out after reading the USA Today article “California’s 100-year drought” by Doyle Rice (2) .  The article says (bolds are mine):  California is in the third year of one of the state’s worst droughts in the past century, one that’s led to fierce wildfires, water shortages and restrictions, and potentially staggering agricultural losses.

Overall, past droughts have probably been due to subtle changes in water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cooler water temperatures — known as La Niñas — tend to produce drier conditions in the West.

I checked in at NOAA to see if there is a correlation between cooler Oceanic Niño Index (these take place on the Pacific Equator so Ecuador is the nearest country).  NOAA’s chart above shows three cooler events in 1975-76, 1984-85 and 1999-2000.

I checked those dates for California droughts.

1976-1977.  An article “A comparison of California’s extreme 2013 dry spell to the 1976-1977 drought” (3) by Daniel Swain says:   One of the most vivid historical examples of drought in California is the two year dry period spanning 1976 and 1977. Precipitation during each of these calendar years, and during the 1976-1977 water year in particular, was extremely low–these were two consecutive years in which statewide precipitation was ranked among the top five lowest ever recorded in California.

1984-1985.   Wikipedia (4) said: The Western United States experienced a lengthy drought in the late 1980s. California endured one of its longest droughts ever observed, from late 1986 through early 1991.

1999-2000.  NOAA, the US weather service, said  “U.S. Drought Highlights” (5):  On the national scale, severe drought affected about sixteen percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of May 2001. Drought continued in the Pacific Northwest and Southeastern U.S. Dry conditions return to the West.

Though I am sure this is a gross oversimplification of a really complex effect, there does appear to be a connection between cooler Oceanic Niño Indices and drought in California and the West.

From this simplicity, we can come to a few tentative conclusions.

First, a warmer Oceanic Niño Index is ahead.  In the short short period reviewed above, cool periods have been followed by a warm period before the next cool.

Second, this could bode well for the California drought.  The last cool period ended in 2012.  Temperatures have been in the median range since.  It’s possible that a warm period could come along at any time.

Third, a warmer period is good for California but can mean a lot of rain and flooding in Ecuador.

Those interested in living in Ecuador should check and understand the country’s weather patterns.  Especially anyone interested in living on the coast should carefully check the flood plains before deciding to buy.

Gary

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ecuador ocean view

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Ecuador ocean view

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We DO NOT investigate properties when they are advertised so be sure to complete your due diligence.  Always use an independent Ecuador attorney who represents you (not the seller) when you buy real estate in Ecuador. We also recommend that you rent, become familiar with Ecuador before you buy.

Learn more about Ecuador at our upcoming International Investing seminar in Montreal.

(1) NOAA ONI changes

(2) California Megadroughts

(3) A comparison of California’s extreme 2013 dry spell to the 1976-1977 drought

(4)  Wikipedia on 1984-1985 drought

(5) NOAA on 2001 drought



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