Monday, July 7, 2014

El Nino in Serious Trouble; Upcoming Winter In Question

The El Nino that has been widely discussed across the meteorological community appears to be in serious trouble.

If we look at a graph of upper-ocean heat anomalies, one way to measure the water temperature anomalies near the surface, we can see the evolution of the projected El Nino this past spring. We see how heat anomalies soared as Kelvin Wave-induced warm waters began hitting the surface after posting record-breaking numbers underwater weeks earlier. However, beginning in May, we began to see heat anomalies drop off, and it is only recently that we have seen oceanic heat anomalies plummet to levels that indicate the El Nino is no longer present. This comes as a shock to the system, after we observed that record-breaking Kelvin Wave this past spring.

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An animation of water anomalies on a depth-by-latitude chart reveals this dramatic reversal of water anomalies in the Pacific. We saw how the record-breaking Kelvin Wave began hitting the surface in May, but from there, cooler than normal anomalies are seen about 100-150 meters down just eating up the warmth. Now, as we start off the month of July, we find ourselves with barely anything to hang onto that would allow us to call this a potential El Nino.

All of this brings the upcoming winter into question, creating what could be a whole new ballgame. If this El Nino fails to form, which is becoming more and more of a possibility with each passing week, we're looking at a drastically-altered landscape in terms of expected precipitation and temperature anomalies over North America. 

This situation will be revisited in coming weeks.