A warming of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean may be brewing… and this could lead to changes in our global weather patterns.
This warming… called an El Nino… usually leads to lower Atlantic hurricane activity and higher winter rainfall totals for California and southern states… and milder winters temperatures for the nation's northern states.
Neutral conditions (La Nada) are expected to continue through spring… with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing this summer or fall.
While this could be good news to weaken the southwest U.S. drought and lessen energy bills next winter in the far north… conditions do vary worldwide. Some areas benefit... while some don't.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration (NOAA) issued an official El Nino Watch yesterday (Thursday, March 6). El Nino is the warming of the central Pacific which usually occurs once every few years. It stirs up the climate around the world… changing precipitation and temperature patterns.
Although early signs are appearing a few hundred feet below the surface of the ocean right now… an El Nino started to brew in 2012 and then shut down unexpectedly and quickly... so its not all out guaranteed the full fledged El Nino will develop.
The opposite of El Nino is La Nina... which has a general cooling effect. It has been much more frequent than El Ninos lately in recent years... with five La Ninas and two small-to-moderate El Ninos in the last nine years. The last big El Nino was 1997-98. Neither has appeared since mid-2012. El Ninos are usually strongest from December to April.
The last four El Ninos have been weak or moderate and those have fewer effects on weather. The last big El Nino of 1997-1998 cost about $3 billion in agricultural damage around the world.
El Ninos can be beneficial though. After years of dryness and low reservoirs… an El Nino's wet weather would be welcome in places like parched California.
For the most recent ENSO... El Nino Southern Oscillation update... check out this web page.
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