The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its latest monthly El Niño forecast and is calling for a better than 90 percent chance that this event will linger through the fall months and an 85 percent chance this event will last through the winter. As a refresher, El Niño is defined by the warmer than average sea surface temperatures it brings to the central and eastern tropical Pacific which alters normal weather patterns across the globe.
Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist says, El Niño has certainly played a role in ending the Plains' multi-year drought. May 2015 was the wettest month on record in Texas and Oklahoma, and the wettest May on record in Colorado. In Oklahoma, May 1957 and 1982 dropped to number two and three on the list, in terms of that state's wettest May 1-31 periods on record. These are significant years says Rippey because 1957 and 1982, both featured spring development of strong El Niño events. The 1957-58 El Niño effectively ended the Plains' drought of the 1950s.
The spring timing of El Niño development is somewhat unusual, in that El Niño, after all, derives its name from the South American (Peruvian, Ecuadorian) fishermen who often first noticed the adverse effects of the warm Eastern Pacific waters on their catch around Christmas (El Niño = Christ child). Forecasters are certainly optimistic that El Niño's effect on American weather patterns will last into (and through) the California wet season. During the "super El Niño" of 1982-83, California got more winter storms (and rain/snow) than it could handle, 150 to 200 percent of normal precipitation in many locations.
On the other side of the globe, El Niño creates a dry bias in the Indian monsoon, resulting in lower than normal rainfall. India is notoriously hot in April and May prior to the onset of the monsoon. Their seasonal summer months are March, April, and May, marking the hottest months of the year for them when daytime highs can routinely reach over 110 degrees F says Brad Morris, USDA Agricultural Meteorologist. The monsoon typically brings an end to their summer months and subsequently the heat. If the monsoon circulation is disrupted (say from El Niño) then this can result in hotter-than-normal conditions. However, it should be noted that the temperatures were within the statistical mean of the last 30 years, averaging less than 2 degrees F above normal for the period April through May. Morris also points out that El Niño's influence on the Indian monsoon has declined over the last few decades, with a strengthening influence coming from a similar phenomenon in the Indian Ocean (the Indian Ocean Dipole). I have attached a graphic that depicts this. In fact, a private-sector monsoon prediction has been indicating a normal monsoon based on favorable conditions related to the Indian Ocean Dipole.
I write monthly articles pertaining to crops, dairy and weather for a company called FCStone, eDairy and thought this was a perfect one to share. I think it's pretty amazing how just the warming of ocean water can have major impacts on weather patterns across the globe.
Thanks for taking the time to read,
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist