The string of below normal water temperatures is not extremely significant, and many of those little below-normal anomalies on this 'string' are only slightly below normal. However, the sudden appearance of these little bubbles of below normal sea surface temperatures are concerning to me in the sense that the Equatorial Pacific is sending many mixed messages.
There is a spot of very below normal waters below Nino regions 1+2, 3, and 3.4. However to the west, there is also an above normal body of water several dozen meters under the surface. It's as if the waters are trying to make all three ENSO phases happen at once- there is a neutral-ENSO-like water signature on the surface, a La Nina signature below the eastern waters, and an El Nino signature below the western waters of the ENSO monitoring area.
So what? Why should I care about how warm or cold water is?
If we see a persistance of this body of below normal waters, or even an expansion, the possibility of a developing La Nina must be accounted for. As previously mentioned in this post, lower level winds across the world are tuned more to a La Nina than an El Nino- something that must be closely watched as we enter the late fall-early winter weeks.
If I were to make a forecast on what we can expect for the ENSO in the winter, I am just not too sure of what I really would say. On one hand, we have a very solid body of La Nina-status waters just below the surface. However, on the other hand, we still have a fairly large expanse of El Nino-status waters on the western side of this image above. Yet, on the surface, it's just pretty stagnant- no defined areas of above or below normal waters.
These next few weeks will be a wait-and-see game as the Equatorial Pacific tangles with itself in trying to stabilize a proper ENSO solution for the winter.