El Niño July Updates

The July El Niño Expert Discussion update is available from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Not much has changed except maybe the dire predictions of a “super” El Niño have faded. There still as 80% chance of an El Niño between October and December, but the general consensus is for a mid-range event. (I’ll spare you the plethora of numbers — see the CPC’s ENSO page, particularly the weekly updates, for details.) Regardless, even a mediocre event will probably set new records for global high temperatures and areas of droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other such nastiness.

Additionally, Climate.gov’s ENSO Blog posted a couple good articles recently. Today (10 Jul) it is about why we haven’t been seeing the effects of an El Niño, yet — Alaskan and Western Canada warmth, Californian rain, Australian and Indonesian droughts, etc. Several ENSO experts have mentioned recently how the atmosphere hasn’t “seen” the impact of El Niño. The water temperatures are up, but the trade winds and weather patterns don’t act like it. My impression is that the air will eventually catch up, but it will probably be late in the year or into 2015 before anything can be truly attributed to the El Niño.

The other ENSO Blog post is about how the strength of an El Niño doesn’t directly correlate to observed impacts on land. The example they use is the seasonal monsoon in India. South Asia and their over 1 billion inhabitants rely on the monsoons for adequate food for the rest of the year. The strongest El Niño of the 20th Century was in 1997-8, but India actually had above average rain that year. However, the 2002 El Niño was considered moderate to weak and that was one of the driest monsoons on record. The details are at the link, but it is a reminder that there are many unknowns about the effects of any specific El Niño. Don’t let the talk of a moderate event this fall or winter downplay the potential for trouble.

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