El Nino looks set to be strongest ever

These folks had checked weather within 24 hours – still were caught

The developing El Nino is stronger than the last major event of its type in 1997.

According to the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office, this El Nino is shaping up to be the strongest since records began in 1950.

El Nino is a natural phenomenon which occurs every two to seven years and lasts between six and 18 months.

It manifests as a warming of the surface waters of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The current El Nino is so strong that in some areas sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are more than 2 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.

Aside from the devastating effect that El Nino has on the Peruvian fishing industry, the real significance lies in the change in weather patterns that it produces around the globe.

In the Pacific, the warmer waters in the eastern part of the ocean have spawned more typhoons, super typhoons and hurricanes than usual, with the tracks of those storm systems also being altered considerably. Severe weather conditions have been experienced around the Asia-Pacific region…

In North America, where much of the south and west has been experiencing the worst drought in a century, the El Nino could bring the benefit of rain, although if the El Nino of 1997-98 is anything to go by, that rain could result in severe flooding and deaths.

Yup. Here in New Mexico, many look forward to El Niño. Snowier winters bring lots of tourists to the best powder skiing in the United States. In high desert country, more moisture is always welcome. As long as people are bright enough to stay out of arroyos and away from flash flood danger, the additional precipitation is beneficial.

In the Caribbean, the developing El Nino has already had the opposite effect to the one experienced in the Pacific: namely, it has reduced hurricane frequency by causing an increase in wind shear. This is a change of wind direction and speed with height that can disrupt hurricane formation.

In Africa, El Ninos are associated with drought across southern portions of the continent, and drought in countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa is causing a looming food crisis.

Even Europe is not immune from the effects of an El Nino. If this year’s event follows the pattern of previous ones, then winter weather here could be colder and drier than average and last well into spring.

Regular readers down in Oz are well aware of the dangers El Niño brings to their part of Earth. The fire danger experienced there can be the worst on the planet.

No two El Ninos are the same. There are lots of other short and long-term variables in the global weather patterns, but the coming months could see some unusual and spectacular weather in many parts of the world.

5 thoughts on “El Nino looks set to be strongest ever

  1. Footnote says:

    In 1997, the effects of the Pacific weather system known as “El Niño” impacted the Colorado Plateau and during the month of August thunder storms were occurring on an almost daily basis throughout the region. on August 12, a down burst from one of these storms fell in an area about 15 miles away from Antelope Canyon, a deep and undulating quarter-mile-long slot canyon that is a popular designation for tourist and photographers. The rain from the passing storm funneled into the wash that flows into the narrow canyon and the resulting 11 foot high wall of mud and debris laden water that came roaring down it took the lives of 11 sightseeing tourists. Two of their bodies were never found. ”Rain had not fallen where they were hiking,” according to Benson Nez, a ranger on the Navajo reservation which the canyon runs through. A flash flood earlier in the week stranded hundreds of residents and visitors in Havasu Canyon, a tributary gorge of the Grand Canyon. Helicopters evacuated more than 350 residents and 300 tourists from the village of Supai, Ariz.

  2. Cassandra says:

    “The rainforests hold the key to taming El Niño’s destruction” (Oct 16, 2015) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/16/rainforests-hold-key-to-taming-el-ninos-destruction “El Niño has its fingers in a lot of pies this year: Not only is it helping to boost 2015 toward the warmest year on record, but it is also a major factor in blockbuster hurricane activity in the Pacific and is contributing to a major worldwide coral die-off. By this time next year we’ll probably be able to add another effect to that list: This El Niño is likely to tip us over into a world with carbon dioxide concentrations permanently above 400 parts per million.” http://www.climatecentral.org/news/el-nino-could-push-co2-above-milestone-19605 Bloomberg (Oct 28th): “By now you’ve probably heard that the global weather phenomenon known as El Nino is back, in a very big way, and it’s about to throw everything into flux when it comes to commodities, food prices and inflation. Some economies are much more dependent on raw materials than others, and {here’s} your guide to who’s going to get hit the hardest.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-28/macquarie-here-are-the-biggest-winners-and-losers-of-el-nino News Item (Oct 28, 2015): NAIROBI, KENYA – Flash floods in Somalia have destroyed thousands of makeshift homes, as well as latrines and shallow wells, the United Nations said, predicting that up to 900,000 people could be hit by the strongest El Niño weather phenomenon in decades. “The situation is very concerning as El Niño conditions come amid an already fragile humanitarian situation, where about 3.2 million people are in need of life-saving and livelihood support,” said Peter de Clercq, the humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. He added, “We are already seeing significant displacement, and humanitarian funding levels are critically low.”

  3. FitzRoy says:

    El Niño / Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion issued November 12th, 2015 by the Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml Synopsis: El Niño will likely peak during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with a transition to ENSO-neutral anticipated during the late spring or early summer 2016.

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