Weak El Niño Rest of Summer

El Niño easing in the Pacific Could Mean Stormy

We’re in July now, and there has not been much of a change in overall sea surface temperatures in the Pacific along the equator. There is a slight warm anomaly, but nothing significant. El Nino is slowly fading away. This is forecast to continue into the rest of the summer, and fall and winter. This could mean a much more active pattern for the rest of this summer and the winter. ENSO model ensembles have an agreement on a 0.5 degree C sea surface temperature anomaly into 2018.

Image is from the International Research and Institute for Climate and Society. Link to model plumes here

El Niño forecast models

What this means is that there will be less rising air over the Pacific, so in the laws of Physics, more air will be allowed to rise over the Atlantic as a balance. This means an increase in upward motion with air, and thus a more favorable atmosphere for hurricane development. Also, this means a more favorable atmosphere for coastal low formation during the winter. This could mean some powerful nor’easters with big cold and snow.

During the winter of 2014-2015, El Niño was  raging. And since, we have been disappointed with warm and wet winters. There were cold outbreaks, but they moderated very quickly back to warm, as is typical during El Niño winters. The most significant fact is where the pressure systems set up. During El Niño, a ridge of high pressure likes to set up over the East, since sinking air has to compensate for all the rising air in the Pacific. We saw this the past 2 winters, although last winter was a La Niña.

This winter, we will most likely not see a strong El Niño or La Niña.

The rest of the summer looks cool and rainy here in the East, and hot out West. We could begin to dry up around August and early September, but we will get cold and stormy once October arrives.

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Author: Michael Griffith

I have had a passion for the weather since a very young age and am a degreed meteorologist. I have a Bachelor of Science from Penn State University and a Master's from Plymouth State University. If you ever see me out and about in the Charlotte, NC area, be sure to say hi!