El Niño Watch Cancelled

November 8th, 2012 at 3:42 pm by under Weather

Our hopes for an El Niño winter have faded, as the Climate Prediction Center today officially discontinued the El Niño Watch. Climate models now indicate what we call a “neutral” period through the winter months, meaning, the warming of the Pacific Ocean is not significant enough to be classified as an El Niño.

El Niño periods usually mean wetter than average weather for Texas, so now our best hope is for a few rogue storm systems to deliver significant rainfall to our area. Unfortunately, the odds favor a typically dry winter season, extending our two year drought even longer.

Temperatures are warmer than normal in the Pacific, but not enough to classify as an El Niño

Synopsis: ENSO-neutral is favored through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13.

During October 2012, the Pacific Ocean continued to reflect borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions. Equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased across the Pacific Ocean during the latter half of the month (Fig. 1), which was also reflected in the Niño indices (Fig. 2). The oceanic heat content (average temperature in the upper 300m of the ocean) anomalies also increased slightly (Fig. 3) in association with the downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave (Fig. 4). While the subsurface and surface Pacific Ocean has recently warmed, the tropical atmosphere remained largely consistent with ENSO-neutral. Upper-level and lower-level winds were near average, and the strength of anomalous convection decreased over the past month (Fig. 5). Thus, the atmosphere and ocean continue to indicate borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions.

Relative to last month, the SST model predictions more strongly favor ENSO-neutral, although remaining above-average in the Niño-3.4 region through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13 (Fig. 6). While the tropical ocean and atmosphere may resemble a weak El Niño at times, it is now considered less likely that a fully coupled El Niño will develop. Therefore, the previous El Niño Watch has been discontinued as the chance of El Niño has decreased. While the development of El Niño, or even La Niña, cannot be ruled out during the next few months, ENSO-neutral is now favored through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13 (see CPC/IRI consensus forecast).

This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 6 December 2012. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.

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