Lately there’s been a dramatic warming of the water temperatures in the Pacific ocean near the equator and this is leading scientists to believe that heading into next winter there could be another moderate to strong El Niño event.
This phenomena has shown to have a significant impact on weather patterns across North America, especially along the west coast and across the southern United States.
This large area of warmer than normal water can alter temperature patterns in the atmosphere and redirect the jet stream aiming storms more directly at California and across the southern U.S. The result can be devastation from flooding and high winds.
So what kind of weather can we expect here in our area should there by another strong El Niño next winter?
Keep in mind that in our area the impact from El Niños tend to be minimal, in that trends of rainfall and snowfall and temperature are not greatly affected.
During the winter of 1982-83 there was a strong El Niño in place and we got 59″ of snow which is just a little above normal. Another strong El Niño winter was 1997-98 when we got 40″ of snow. So there is really no evidence to suggest that El Niño greatly influence how much snow we get.
However, there is a tendency during El Niño for the steering wind currents high above North America to blow more from the west. Therefore, should another strong El Niño develop, our winter temperatures will probably trend near or slightly above normal.
With warmer water already showing up in the equatorial Pacific, the odds favor having some form of El Niño in place next winter.
If so, bring it on, because you can bet that next winter won’t be nearly as harsh as last winter was in terms of temperature. In fact it may be rather tame by comparison.