El Niño and its impacts on the Brazos Valley

Typical winter patterns during an El Nino event
Typical winter patterns during an El Nino event(kbtx)
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 1:37 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - For the first time in four years, El Niño is in place heading into the winter season, and as of the latest update from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the Northern Hemisphere is under the influence of strong El Niño conditions.

The Oceanic Niño Index is a scale used to measure the strength of an El Niño event. As of early November, El Niño conditions have met the criteria to certify this year as a “strong” event, with Equatorial Pacific waters warming to 1.7°C above average. Forecasters predict the conditions will continue to strengthen through the start of next year, they even hold a 62% chance for continuation through April 2024.

The CPC also says there is a 1-in-3 chance that the Oceanic Niño Index will reach 2.0°C for just the fifth time in 73 years of record keeping. 1972-1973, 1982-1983, 1997-1998, and most recently, 2015-2016 brought historically warm waters to the Equatorial Pacific. The 2015-2016 El Niño event broke the warming record for the central Pacific, with sea surface temperature anomalies reaching 3.0°C. The previous record was held by the 1982-1983 event, with an anomaly of 2.8°C.

The 2015-2016 winter season brought the Brazos Valley above average rainfall, no snowfall, and relatively mild temperatures. According to the CPC’s forecast for this year, we can expect something similar. The agency holds a 40-50% chance the Brazos Valley will see above average rainfall, but an equal chance to see either above or below average temperatures. For more details on the 2023 winter weather outlook check out this story!

Take a look at the infographic below for more details on El Niño, the winter seasonal outlook, and the Brazos Valley forecast.

We’ll see how the weather pattern shakes out for not only the Lone Star State, but for entirety of the the country as we close out 2023, and move into 2024, but it looks like at the very least it will be a wet winter for the Brazos Valley.