Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Weakening of El Nino - Spring Outlook

Signs might be pointing to El Nino moving past it's peak intensity for this particular episode while moving toward a neutral phase by Spring. Below is an animation that showed the beginning of the 2015-2016 El Nino episode then toward the very end starts to show a drop in Sea Surface Temperature anomalies. This may very well be a signal of El Nino weakening.

This same trend has also been picked up in forecast computer models projecting a neutral phase by late Spring and even suggesting a weak La Nina phase by late Summer. Below is a look at the latest computer model projections all the way through the start of Fall 2016. Each line color represents a different model forecast. The closer the line is to "zero" the more neutral the phase is expected. The solid yellow line is the average of all the model forecasts. Most of the models agree on an El Nino phase (positive 0.5+) until the AMJ (April-May-June) time frame. This would suggest a slowly weakening El Nino through late Spring.

Many are wondering what that would mean for our weather here in the Mid-South. El Nino primarily has its greatest influence during the winter months for the Mid-South. We tend to see near average precipitation and warmer than average temperatures. With a weak El Nino signal taking us into Spring, we could see a slight uptick in severe weather events but also likely start to see a break from above average temperatures and continue with average rainfall. It all really depends on where the jetstream continues to set up for the remainder of winter.

Here is another look at how the weather pattern typically looks like during an El Nino event:

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