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Is El Niño Back?

Is El Niño  Back?

If you’ve read our summer outlook, you know we’re calling for a pretty hot summer in most regions, with many extended heat waves bringing sustained temperatures in the 90s and even 100s. So far, that’s exactly what we’ve seen in many regions, and we don’t foresee relief any time soon.

Of course, the Farmers’ Almanac isn’t the only game in town when it comes to long-range predictions. The National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and even some television meteorologists have also offered long-range outlooks for the season.

A recent story on the Weather Channel’s website quotes meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford predicting a cool-down for the latter half of summer.

“As we head into summer, it may appear that the prolonged stretch of above-normal temperatures across the U.S. will never end. However, although we are expecting a continuation of the warmth across a majority of the country during the first half of summer, the emerging El Niño would suggest increasing odds of more widespread, below-normal temperatures later in the summer.”

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that affects weather on a global scale, but isn’t particularly well understood. Characterized by unusually high water temperatures off the Pacific coast of South America, El Niños generally occur rather erratically, about once every three to seven years, and typically last between 12 and 18 months.

During El Niño years, typically cold areas, such as New England, the upper Midwest, and much of Canada, see a warmer, drier winter than normal, while Southern states experience colder, wetter conditions than normal.

The last time we experienced an El Niño was in 2009-10. After that, there was a neutral period until mid-2011 when a period of unusually chilly water temperatures, referred to as La Niña, took hold. The two temperature conditions oscillate back and forth, and the result is called the “Southern Oscillation.” This is why scientists use the term El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, to describe the entire phenomenon.

The 2011 La Niña just faded out in April. So, is El Niño back?

Not exactly. Right now we are in a neutral mode (“La Nada”). Of course, we can’t expect it to stay that way for a protracted length of time; the Pacific waters off of South America are slowly warming up and the expectation is that we will transition to El Niño conditions by September. But no one can say just how potent that El Niño will be and how long it will last.

And, in fact, it’s not a lock that we’ll actually see an El Nino. The June 25 NOAA bulletin gives only a 50-50 chance that an El Niño will be in place by the latter part of this year. Those warming waters could suddenly stop warming, or even return to a cooling pattern (though most computer models suggest otherwise).

All we can do is wait and see. In the meantime, be sure to consult our detailed long-range forecast for your region!

28 comments

1 william { 09.07.12 at 6:49 am }

Could this all actually be caused by a combination of solar storms and the el nino

2 tornadojustin { 08.11.12 at 10:36 pm }

looking foreword to the fresh winter rains in southern. CA.

3 USAclimatereporter { 08.09.12 at 11:10 am }

i always research more about el nono but i dont really get what el nino is i have never experienced it but i have read about it in weather books but i still dont get how long it takes and why

4 Vic { 08.06.12 at 10:03 pm }

Eric hit the nail on the head. Global Warming is a normal cyclical occurrence. The Earths temps have been hotter and colder than our generations have experienced. Ice ages have come and gone multiple times. Humans have only been around for a micro fraction of time. Al Gore and other crazy lunatics have fed the voodoo people who consumed the cool-ade. It’s too late to save those people. Sorry we can’t help you people!!! You probably voted for Obama too. Unbelievable!

5 Buddy Forehand { 08.04.12 at 8:21 pm }

I want to know what kind of winter we are going to have this year i hope not another one like 2011-2012 I wouild like to see alot of snow this year not 80 degrees in the middle of Febuary us plow people lost alot of work last year with no snow hoping that dont happen again

6 Eric { 07.29.12 at 12:58 pm }

Yes, it’s hot. But look at the temps for the 1930s in the US. Just as hot. So was it global warming then or just now when it’s politically convenient to blame humans for something happening on a global scale? Or perhaps that in the year 1215 the average world temperature was higher than it is now. Was that from all of those autos that King John was using to move his army around Normandy? Perhaps it was from all of those sweatshop factories that Phillip II was using in France to produce cheap French products? Human-caused global warming is always a convenient excuse whenever the weather is too hot, or too rainy, or too stormy, or too unpredictable. But when we had an exceptionally cold and snowy winter in 2011, it was either forgotten or still somehow connected to global warming. The earth my be heating up but it has nothing to do with us peons here; it’s called the sun.

7 Pattea { 07.29.12 at 12:13 pm }

I need to tell you this. This weather is mentioned in the Bible. It say in the last days you wont know the seasons that is how close it is for the Lord to make his appearance so you need to get your heart right with the Lord.

8 mark e. { 07.22.12 at 6:26 pm }

I know right now in the Southeast we are dry as a bone. Particularly in the south central portion.

9 Jim { 07.21.12 at 11:27 am }

I noticed that someone commented that they “hoped this was not global warming”. I probably shouldn’t say this because so many people don’t belive in global warming, but by the time everyone realizes that “YES” it is indeed global warming, it is going to be far to late to do anything about it. We are all one with the world and quite possibly if a butterfly flaps his wings in the jungles of Ecuador it might make the difference of rain in New England or not.

10 Jaime McLeod { 07.19.12 at 9:15 am }

Joe – we will be releasing our winter forecast at the end of August.

11 Jaime McLeod { 07.19.12 at 9:14 am }

Carolyn- This was stated right in the article – he was quoting the NOAA weather bulletin.

12 Theodore { 07.19.12 at 1:20 am }

is the El Nino Back?????

13 zezee3 { 07.18.12 at 7:03 pm }

I agree with Mr. Wiggins about the ground being covered more and more with cement so it holds the earth in and does not allow our Mother Earth to breathe in a natural state of season. Remember also, that our Mother Earth is lopsided ion her axis now and this may have something to do with our HOT, HOT heatwave as well.

14 Susan Zambella { 07.18.12 at 5:45 pm }

Then El Nino was in NY state last winter as we had much warmer than normal temps and hardly any precipitation. THAT was El Nino……………

15 Judy { 07.18.12 at 3:59 pm }

It’s interesting to read all the comments about the heat and the drought. We in Southcentral Alaska have been experiencing one of the coolest July’s on record, last summer we experienced rain most of the time; our crops are not doing very well and for some reason our fish are not in abundance like normal. The old timers say things go in seasons, all things, and right now we are in a cooler season than normal for summer. Send some warm weather our way!

16 Brenda { 07.18.12 at 3:09 pm }

What is up with this heat? The last 3 summers (2010, 2011, and 2012) have been one of the hottest summers on record back to back. Last year this was consistent hot spells and I agree.. summers are always hot but not to the extreme like this. 80% of the country in drought, the whole country suffering through high heat and humidity? No back when I was growing up summers were 80s and classic thunderstorms and a few 90s here or there. But now its widespread 90s and 100s and a drought!! I live in Virginia and it blew my mind to see our early spring in March when it should have been in the 50 degree range. I hope things point to a cool down by the end of the summer so we can go back to normal, I do believe we will be in an el nino by September

17 carolyn egan { 07.18.12 at 1:11 pm }

What are Caleb;s sources for his information on the ElNino?

18 M walker { 07.18.12 at 12:27 pm }

Just wish it would get back to where we could tell winter from summer

19 joe { 07.18.12 at 11:49 am }

i hate to ask this but do you know when the winter forcast will be available?

20 Mandy { 07.18.12 at 11:37 am }

http://seekingtruth.co.uk/weather.htm
This is a pretty awesome site with biblical truth concerning weather. The bible is GOD’s word which is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. AMEN!

21 Chad { 07.18.12 at 11:26 am }

I kind of agree with “David’s” comment. We have not seen ANY moisture in Lincoln, NE since June, 24. It has been sustained heat for almost 3 weeks now. The irrigation for soybeans has already doubled. It usually does not start until about this time in July. I hope for a nice fall, and a snowy (no ice!) winter!

22 Diana from CNY { 07.18.12 at 11:20 am }

My grandaddy used to say: “Open winter, drought in summer” (open winter meaning no snow) well it dang sure was right on for this year! I know meteorologists think ‘old weather lore’ is hokum….maybe they should rethink that, it is more often right than wrong.

23 David { 07.18.12 at 10:54 am }

We are headed into a heatwave of biblical proportions. Drought conditions will last for years, causing food shortages throughout the world. I believe you are on the right track when Caleb predicted that a pretty hot summer will exist in most regions, with many extended heat waves bringing sustained temperatures in the 90s and even 100s. Right on!

24 Janet groves { 07.18.12 at 10:16 am }

We are on our 22nd day of 90+° with triple digit temps again. Cant remember the last rain fall.

25 mimiangulo@optonline.net { 07.18.12 at 9:17 am }

I hope this is just business as usual not global warming. I’m 56 and never remember weather like this. We had summers in the 70 degree range, thunder storms and hail that didn’t have tornadic winds. It’s this extreme weather that has me scared. A blizzard before Halloween then a warm Christmas?

26 James Wiggins { 07.18.12 at 9:13 am }

I am wondering if there has ever been a study on how the unending expansion of pavement around the world, and especially developed countries, affects weather patterns. We know that it does but I have never heard of a study being conducted.

27 lumbarpain { 07.17.12 at 6:55 pm }

I hope Mom Nature isnt too nasty with us thats all.

28 Phyllis { 07.16.12 at 8:09 pm }

We can only hope we transition to a better fall and winter. I pray that this years warm notice will slow down by fall and trend more to a better pattern. Im not asking for another warm fall and winter. I miss the winters we had before this year but I dont know if we will see a winter here in the mid atlantic. How can this warmth end anytime soon? Are there signs indicating that we will cool down quite nicely in the fall after this scorching summer with a drought rivaling the 1930s dust bowl? Thank ya Caleb! Hoping for el nino

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