It’s still early, but it looks like an El Niño is brewing.
The Climate Prediction Center has noticed recent warming temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and they’ve issued an El Niño Watch. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of an El Niño.
Most recent model data suggests a 50 percent chance of an El Niño forming by mid- to late-Summer. By the end of the year, that chance grows to 65 percent.
Water temperatures are heating up quickly, too. Looking back to January, a relatively small area was a degree or two above the average. By March, that area had grown and significantly heated up by another four or five degrees.
With a warm-up like that, this could be a significant El Niño the likes we haven’t seen in a long while. With each model run, an El Niño is looking more and more likely.
The first model run has a few models below average and all the lines are relatively far apart. The second brings everything a little closer and only one model dips below the zero line. By the third run, the models are bunched up, and all of them are well above the zero line. There’s a saying in meteorology, “the trend is your friend,” and that looks like a trend.
What does it mean?
An El Niño doesn’t mean much for the United States in the short term. Typically, they don’t have much of an effect on our weather in the summer. The biggest effect we’ll likely see is a quieter hurricane season. El Niño years typically generate fewer hurricanes, but that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear by any means.
The U.S. will notice a bigger difference in the colder months of the year. An El Niño winter usually brings cool, wet conditions for the southern half of the country, and this could be a good thing for drought-stricken southern California and parts of Texas. The Pacific Northwest, meanwhile, is usually a little warmer during an El Niño winter.
All eyes are on the Pacific Ocean these next few months to see if the worldwide weather pattern may begin to shift.
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