Update: Friday June 6:
Just a quick update to say there chance of showers on Saturday evening has remained about the same in the forecast and a few very light showers have popped up on the West Coast for Sunday. Nothing serious though and still warm. With sun returning Monday.
The big ridge of high pressure that is centered off the Oregon and California coast is going to slide a little further out to sea but will still remain large and strong enough to keep us dry and warm and send most of the rain elsewhere.
By next week it will move even further out to sea and weaken, which likely means a change in our weather, but that is a long ways off.
El Niño is on the way.
The map above shows ocean temperature anomalies in the Pacific, the reddening near the north coast of South America is the precursor to El Niño. The latest El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast from the U.S. National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Centre is out today. Their synopsis:
The chance of El Niño is 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and reaches 80% during the fall and winter.
These are higher chances than they predicted last month and are really only a step or two away from actually declaring El Niño conditions have begun. They have continued an El Niño Watch. Unlike last month where it seemed we might be on track for a very strong event, this months forecast tempers that and says:
Over the last month, the chance of El Niño and its ultimate strength weakened slightly in the models (Fig. 6). Regardless, the forecasters remain just as confident that El Niño is likely to emerge.
An El Niño can officially be declared when one month ocean anomalies are over 0.5ºC and are expected to stay that way for 3 more months and atmospheric conditions match what is expected.
The graph below shows the latest probabilities of El Niño, Neutral (what we have been in for a while), and La Niña conditions. Each set of three bars for each condition is grouped by 3 month set starting with May, June, July (MJJ).
As you can see by the red bars. El Niño conditions are the most likely conditions to exist until at least March next year and probably longer since probabilities don’t return to even today’s levels by then.
What does El Niño mean for us? It usually affects our “monsoon” weather the most over the fall and winter months. The last El Niño of note was 2010 during the Winter Olympics when there was no snow on the North Shore mountains. Remember that? The other big comparison, especially if this El Niño gets strong, is 1997/1998. There is a good summary of that event and El Niño’s effects here. Below is a good image that shows what El Niño does to weather around the world. Notice the large warm areas in Alaska and BC.
The big question in the climate world will be weather an El Niño over this year and/or 2015 will lead to a big new global temperature high. The historic 1997/98 event created a global record high temperature average for 1998 far above what the base warming was providing. This has been something climate change deniers have regularly used to “prove” global warming has stopped in some way. In reality, all it did was prove that, like the stock market, there are peaks and valleys even as a market grows.
Global temperatures have continued to rise. 2010 is now the hottest year on record, over 2005 and 1998 and all of the top 10 hottest years since 1880 have occurred since 2000, except 1998. The question is, will an El Niño cause a new spike in global average temperatures in 2014 or 2015. The answer is yes, because that is what El Niños do. The question is only, how high.