El Nino returns


Weekly Pacific sea surface temperature animation shows warm water expanding in the tropical Pacific.

El Nino is back.

That’s the word in an update today from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Ocean temperatures have increased to as high as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above average in a narrow band in the tropical Pacific. That doesn’t sound like much to you and me, but it’s a big deal in the world of El Nino. If ocean temperatures remain that far above average, it would be one of the stronger El Nino episodes on record.

The effects of El Nino tend to be weak here in the Midwest in summer. It’s a different story in winter. El Nino winters show a strong statistical tendency to be milder than average here in the Upper Midwest. The blooming El Nino may also limit Atlantic hurricane activity this summer and fall. Still, it only takes one strong hurricane landfall in the U.S. to make for a really bad day.

El Nino winters also tend to be wetter than average in southern California, the Desert Southwest and along the Gulf Coast states.

For those of you hoping for a milder winter next year, your chances just went up.


  • A.M.M.M

    Although this estimate may not be very accurate, it seems that since about 1997 Minnesota winters have been getting increasingly drier and milder in frequency. It also seems that around that same time, an exponential increase in the terms “El Nino” and “La Nina” have been in the news, both meterologically and otherwise. I am assuming that the mathematical modeling for this type of phenomena has also been under much analysis and update. Are there separate modeling tools exclusive to the El Nino and La Nina activity, or are they just sub-set models of larger climate models?

    It seems that an El Nino or La Nina is only identified after data is obtained for Pacific Ocean temperature for a given duration. Possibly, with a seeming increase of occurances of these events, the criteria for identifying El Nino or La Nina may also change in the near future.

  • Erm.

    During the winter I work as an Aircraft Deicer at MSP. It’s a fantastic job; the best I’ve had to date (albeit cold). I love the job, and love the pay, but if the weather’s not right, we don’t work.

    I’d heard inklings prior to this article that Minnesota might have a milder winter, but this is the first evidence I’ve actually seen of it, and frankly it worries me.