Friday, October 5, 2012

El Nino, Interrupted?

We discussed in early September the possibility of El Nino developing this winter.  At that time, it appeared that it would be a borderline event.  Observations from September and projections for the future continue to support this perspective.

As discussed in the ENSO diagnostic discussion issued yesterday by the Climate Prediction Center, the equatorial Pacific currently features ENSO-neutral (meaning no La Nino or El Nino) to weak El Nino conditions.  Sea surface temperatures across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific are mostly  above average, but only weakly so.

Source: NCEP/CPC
For comparison, during a well-developed El Nino (e.g., Jan-Mar 1998, bottom left below), a pronounced tongue of well above average temperatures extends across the eastern and central tropical Pacific (La Nina conditions from Jan–Mar 1989 are displayed at left).

Source: NCEP/CPC
Climate models mostly project borderline ENSO-neutral or weak El Nino conditions to occur this winter.  Based on this guidance, and current conditions, the official CPC forecast calls for ENSO-neutral to weak El Nino conditions for this winter.  

As we have discussed in several previous posts, the presence of El Nino, La Nina, or neutral conditions doesn't buy us much for anticipating how much snow we will have in the Wasatch Mountains.  My crystal ball is no better than yours.  Your guess is pretty much as good as mine.  

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