The latest El Niño prediction is out and, while the odds are down from the predicted event this summer, forecasters are saying it's still more likely than not that we'll still see the phenomenon this year. But what would a winter El Niño look like?
The new El Niño prediction drops the chances of a 2014 arrival to 60-65% down from 70 - 80% that was predicted in June, interestingly it also puts the arrival not in the more typical warmer months but into the fall and winter months.
"If it seems like each month we've been saying '… in the next few months,' you may be wondering what's going on," explains NOAA's ENSO blog. Indeed! But please do go on:
Isn't an ENSO event (either El Niño or La Niña) supposed to develop in the late spring or summer, peak in the winter, and return to normal conditions in the spring? Generally speaking, yes. But, of course, it's not always so simple. ENSO is seasonally "phase-locked," meaning the events do follow a seasonal cycle, due to a series of physical processes that are a topic for a later post. However, it's a complex system, and there is a lot of variation in the timing.
And, while a warm season El Niño may be much more common, an El Niño in the colder months isn't quite unprecedented, as this graph of what season the El Niños of the last 64 years occurred in:
Images: El Niño NOAA