El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century

By Stanley A. Changnon | Go to book overview

In sum, the known financial benefits traceable to the unseasonal winter-early spring weather in the Midwest amounted to $ 8.85 billion. There may be additional but unknown income in some sectors. Little is known about the environmental impacts, but no significant environmental effects have been reported.

Those who lost out as a result of the El Niño-driven weather conditions in the Midwest included those who failed to use the predictions of a mild winter and those who were hurt by the untypical weather conditions. Several natural gas providers failed to heed the long-range weather predictions and bought gas early in the fall at high prices. These higher costs were largely transferred to their customers, who failed to realize all the benefits that later, lower-cost purchases would have produced. From a health standpoint, the unusual winter weather conditions resulted in nine deaths in the Midwest. Certain businesses suffered, including manufactures and sellers of snowmobiles ($10 million in lost sales) and manufacturers of snow removal equipment (lost $22 million). Private snow removal companies lost $26 million in expected income, towing businesses lost $16 million, and sellers of salt reported decreased sales and losses of $68 million. Business at Midwestern ski resorts was down 50 percent and losses were $120 million. Furnace manufacturers and heating equipment sales companies reported losses of $300 million. Retail sales of winter clothing, including fur coats, was down 15 percent, and this represented losses of $180 million. The total estimated losses in the Midwest amounted to $750 million. Thus, losses were approximately 10 percent of the total benefits.

In general, the climate predictions calling for widely varying weather conditions during summer 1998 and the growing season left decision makers with no guidance and, often, feeling confused. Hence, their responses to the predictions were negligible.


REFERENCES

Adams. C. R. 1997. "Impacts of temperature extremes". Proceedings of the Workshop on the Societal and Economic, Impacts of Weather. Boulder, CO: NCAR, 11-16.

Baker, D. J. May 15, 1997. "Testimony before Subcommittee on Science, Technology & Space", Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Bishop, D. March 12, 1998. El Nino led to lower gas bills. Detroit News. p. B1.

Bunting, V. April 4, 1998. Winter damage from El Niño bad but not the worst. Champaign-Urbana News Gazette. p. 11.

Champaign-Urbana News Gazette. August 1, 1998. State's peaches prove plentiful, p. 11.

Changnon, S. A. 1996. Losers and winners: A summary of the flood's impacts. In The Great Flood of 1993. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 276-299.

Changnon, S., Changnon, D., Fosse. E., Hoganson, R., Roth, R., and Totsch, J. 1997. Effects of recent extremes on the insurance industry: Major implications for the atmospheric sciences. Bulletin Amer. Meteoro. Soc., 78, 425-435.

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El Niño, 1997-1998: The Climate Event of the Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Contributors xv
  • 1 - What Made El NiñO 1997-1998 Famous? 3
  • References 26
  • 2 - Causes, Predictions, and Outcomes of El NiñO 1997-1998 28
  • References 47
  • 3 - Was El NiñO a Weather Metaphor--A Signal for Global Warming? 49
  • Notes 67
  • References 67
  • 4 - The Scientific Issues Associated with El NiñO 1997-1998 68
  • Appendix 103
  • References 105
  • 5 - Who Used and Benefited from the El NiñO Forecasts? 109
  • References 134
  • 6 - Impacts of El NiñO's Weather 136
  • References 166
  • 7 - Policy Responses to El NiñO 1997-1998 172
  • References 193
  • 8 - Summary Surprises, Lessons Learned, and the Legacy of El NiñO 1997-1998 197
  • References 209
  • Index 211
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