El Niño ‘Watch’ Issued by the CPC

Once you saw this headline, some of you might have wondered what that’s all about. No, we are not all going to die by world-wide flooding, sharknadoes, and – another “favorite” – chemtrails.  This is just a forecast notice by the Climate Prediction Center hinting that an El Niño event greater than 50 percent is likely by summer.

For those who are not sure what it is, El Niño is – in essence – the abnormal warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The greatest anomaly is usually off the coast of Peru. More info on El Niño can be found here.

This phenomenon can affect weather patterns in the U.S. and other parts around the Pacific. The stronger the El Niño, the greater the impacts. In Florida, the usual impacts are greater precipitation and cooler temperatures.

Niño regions 3.4 and 3 (central and east-central equatorial Pacific, respectively) have seen recent increases in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) while the Niño 4 region (west-central Pacific) warming since February continues.

(Source: CPC/NOAA)
(Source: CPC/NOAA)

Other observations are indicating that continued El Niño development is likely during the next few months. Model consensus has the 3.4 region SST anomalies around 0.75 degrees C above normal early in the fall. But, since these are models, this isn’t a specific forecast of strength etched in stone.

It’s worth watching as this may have an impact not only on the winter weather across the U.S., but also the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño patterns tend to limit tropical cyclone development more so than neutral and La Niña conditions. On that note, I do warn that you should prepare for hurricane season if it was predicted to be a bad one. It only takes one storm to make a quiet season a big one (e.g. Hurricane Andrew in 1992).