El Nino Developing in Tropical Pacific; Likely For Next Winter

I mentioned this back in April or May, but now the signs are definitely here…The warm phase of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) appears to be setting up for the upcoming seasons.  NOAA officially has had an “El Nino Watch”  up for over a month, but since that time the tropical Pacific has continued to warm.   This is an animation of sea surface ANOMALY (temperature deviation from normal), showing the spreading “tongue” of warmer than normal water over the past two months.  It’s now stretched halfway across the Pacific Ocean.  You can only see the animation if you click on it:

Remember that we’ve seen two years of La Nina (cool phase) conditions too.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve seen research and heard talks mentioning that forecasting the emergence/continuation of ENSO patterns is worst from March-May, then forecast confidence increases rapidly as we move into midsummer.  In the case of this year, the long-range climate models have been pointing to either neutral (La Nada) or El Nino conditions developing across the Pacific this summer.  The latest run of the CFS (Climate Forecast System) model shows a strong El Nino developing by this upcoming Fall.  El Nino conditions are +0.5 or higher on the chart.  La Nina -0.5 or lower:

Here is a “plume” of many different models:

The message appears to be the same: La Nina isn’t coming back, we MIGHT have a La Nada winter, but far more likely is an El Nino Winter 2012-2013.  The last two events were winters 2006-2007 & 2009-2010.  The 2nd was a classic one here with long periods of slow weather after a big start in November.  Snow didn’t even fall below 3,000′ during all of January and February!  BUT, it started out with lots of stormy weather in November, a big freeze in early December, and all of 2.5″ of snow in one night in late December.  The winter of 2006-2007 (the El Nino before that) was almost exactly the same in November…crazy busy with lots of storms.  We even had our best windstorm in 10 years in December that year.  But, like most El Ninos, the 2nd half of winter was just dead; although we had a mini-cold spell in January and a surprise snow while I was in San Antonio at a weather conference.  February was mild and drier than normal, typical for El Nino winters.

By the way, these graphs, chart, and info come out every Monday at this address:  http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

30 Responses to El Nino Developing in Tropical Pacific; Likely For Next Winter

  1. lurkyloo says:

    What type of winter was ’03-’04 — the year we had that huge ice storm?

    • Mr Data says:

      Cold! 🙂 Actually I think the PDO was in between neutral and positive but correct me if I am wrong.

    • Mr Data says:

      In addition to ENSO and Pee Dee Oh cycle phases a very informative person over at Western Forums says the solar output has put us in poor alignment for any cold snow.

      We’ve had setups that should’ve given us bulls eye but solar activity has given things poor alignment.

      Last fall tehere was a lot of solar winds which screwed up the winter patterns royally putting us in the penalty box. 😦

      I hope this fall will be much quieter sunwise and with a negative phase of the ocean we should score something wonderful but if we get unusual solar flares then kiss any chance good bye!

      Solar Flares + Winter = jump off the cliff and join the party.

    • Mr Data says:

      The cold air the last several years existed and was often quite deep over Alaska but was very stubborn to move southwards.

  2. chris says:

    hey im new to watching the weather but in 2008 what caused that December to be so cold and snowy for the Seattle area i don’t know if it was the same in Portland or not but was it a la Nina and what would we need to set up for it to happen again thanks

  3. W7ENK says:

    Forecast high of 107°F today at PDX.


    Yesterday’s high temperature of 72°F fell 37 degrees short of the forecast high of 109.

    102°F tomorrow.

    • Mr Data says:

      Yuck! The Oregon Gardens are doing their yearly fireworks tonight which they have done since they first opened sometime around 2001 I think it was and this 100+ weather is killing me!

      For some reason I’ll never understand they ALWAYS do their concert + Fireworks on the third instead of the fourth but regardless I hope they don’t cancel out due to such high and dry conditions. :p

      Anybody know when our drought will end?

  4. NR says:

    With how dry the SW is, can any of us really get frustrated with a global pattern that could line them up for some serious precip?

  5. weathercrazy82 says:

    Nice heavy shower just finished. Now the sun is out 🙂

    The sun is very warm and it’s strange to feel when everything is dripping wet.

    54 here with 0.19″ for the day.

  6. Fred482 says:

    Weather station scroll (at 0550 hrs) said, “It’s raining cats & dogs”, rain rate was 0.81 in/hr, I love it! It lasted only a few minutes, but I did record 0.18, that beats nothing. Did lose a few small twigs and leaves during the heavy part, slight wind gusts.

    For the few of us who have to wear protective (read: HEAVY) clothing in our occupation, while often working in direct sunlight, this may be the last pleasant day at work for awhile. It’s been a great run and the crops need some summer weather. The rest of you, enjoy!

  7. JJ97222 says:

    Another cold start for a July day can you believe it, what I would give for some east coast temps. All of the extended day light without sun, another week started waiting for sun, are we going to get the rug pulled out again? I’m wondering!

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      It’s one thing to be a little pessimistic, but have you looked at models or forecasts?

    • muttville1 says:

      I gotta admit, I’m not holding my breath……………..

    • JJ97222 says:

      Well Mark I have seen the forecasts and the models, I have to tell you I am excited to see this weather but I have seen things change too, living in the Northwest. You have great job on the 7 day!

  8. Mr Data says:

    Oh boy! Maybe this time winter will actually be sunny instead of fogged in! One can only hope as I have given up on winter actually being winter.

  9. paulbeugene says:

    I do not foresee any 95+ degree temps in the next two weeks, looking at ECMWF and GFS. With ridging remaining over the Great Basin/Rockies, anomalous cold SSTs over NE Pacific..will have onshore flow…with heights high enough for mainly variable morning clouds…afternoon sun pattern…over Willamette Valley, more sun as you go farther S. Still tendency for upper lows to drop in from the NW at times. Have not seen much in the way of offshore flow pattern so far this June into July.

    Will have to dust off the historical PDO and ENSO tables to see what years are PDO neg/ENSO pos. La Nina the past two years has verified for late winter/spring temps/precip overall, but they have not given us what we might have expected midwinter.

  10. bgb41 says:

    7/2/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:97 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)
    Low: 64 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & CW2444 Echo(722 ft)

    High:49 at Mary’s Peak(4137 ft)
    Low: 32 at Sand Creek (US 9 (4525 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 53 degrees
    FOSTER FLAT (88/35 ) (5000 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.10″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)

  11. alohabb says:

    C’Mon dammit….i want summer first!!!!1

  12. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    What’s with the 7-day? Is that a new design or did some of the graphic just not load properly?

  13. runrain says:

    New graphics for the 7-day? I liked the old ones much better.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Haha! That was really bad…someone should have screen-grabbed it before I fixed. During the upgrade the machine must have been disconnected to the rest of the network; all the blue tiles were missing.

    • runrain says:

      The old one is back. All is good in the world….

  14. Garron near Washington Square says:

    I heard they are running a special on cliff jumping if you book it before October this year, already bought my tickets, and am chilling the beer for the upcoming winter bust a thon. See you all at the bottom around Dec. 1st…lol

  15. Karl Bonner says:

    Assuming this is true, those of us wanting storm action will probably have to count on November and/or December for it.

    I’d welcome some early winter action (either cold/ice or wind/flooding or better yet a little of both), provided we don’t dip to 5-10F before Thanksgiving! Gotta give those evergreen magnolias, windmill palms, and certain rhododendrons time to harden off in late fall before the arctic air arrives. Then a dead and inversion-heavy January wouldn’t be so bad, because we’d have a good shot at an awesome false spring beginning some time after Groundhog Day.

  16. W7ENK says:

    So, no La Neutral this winter, huh? 😦

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