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El Nino by Late Summer/Fall?

May 16, 2012; 12:11 PM ET

Is it ever too early to talk about the next winter season in the West? Because water supplies and recreational winter sports depend so greatly on the economy, the answer has to be no, it is never to early. So let's have a look at what it may be looking like down the line.

As most know, we were in a La Nina through the fall and much of the winter months but with a trend the ENSO neutral by late winter and spring. This may be one reason we had the late surge in precipitation in California to the central Great Basin.

Models all are pretty close in agreement right now through the summer that ENSO-neutral conditions will continue. Most of the models, including the CFS Ensemble mean, predict the development of El Nino in the August-September-October period and to continue into early 2013.

Here is the Pacific Nino 3.4 sea surface temperature outlook from a number of models.

This graph shows that most of the models take the sea surface anomalies to 0.5 degrees C and above starting in the August-September-October period.

The CFS ensemble mean also predicts the same.

The following bar graph shows the probability of each ENSO. There is a high probability of neutral early on trending toward at least equal chance by this fall and winter.

It will be critical to watch how these numbers change with time as we go into and through the summer. Right now, odds are favoring at least a weak El Nino next winter.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Ken Clark
Ken Clark's Western U.S. weather blog tackles daily weather events with commentary from one of the most experienced and trusted Western U.S. weather experts.