NOAA: El Niño has arrived

El Niño influences weather patterns across the US.
El Niño influences weather patterns across the US.(NOAA)
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:04 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - For the first time in three years, El Niño is officially back, according to a statement from the Climate Prediction Center. In short, El Niño is observed with above-average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and can affect large scale storm patterns across the globe.

After an historic “Triple Niña” was declared officially over earlier this year, meteorologists have officially noted the switch to El Niño. La Niña typically means drier and warmer than average conditions than would be expected in what would be seen as a “neutral” year -- when neither climate pattern is in effect. Typically, during a La Niña event, the jet stream tends to run and remain further north across the Central and Northern United States, often bypassing the southern half of the country from big weather makers. In the last couple months, despite this “Triple Niña” this pattern has largely been responsible for persisting drought across California and Texas. Fortunately, timely rains over the past few months have softened the blow in Texas, and California has put a sizeable dent in their drought status thanks to multiple Atmospheric River events.

El Niño, conversely, is when the water temperatures are above average. Thre is growing confidence that El Niño will continue to strenghten through the end of the year. Typically, this means wetter, cooler than average weather in our region and across the Southwest/Midwest. This may act to finally crush the drought that persists throughout a lot of the central parts of Texas, especially right along and west of I-35. El Niño conditions also typically hinder overly active tropical conditions in the Atlantic Basin, thanks to higher upper level winds making for less conducive formation ingredients.

Since 1950 there have been 25 El Niño events and 26 La Niña. While regionally, El Niño correlates to cooler and wetter weather, the average global temperature tends to be higher, leaving some climate scientists to forecast summer of 2023 to be among the hottest around the globe, potentially topping summer 2016.