After some very cold weather this month, folks are likely wondering if the early chill is a harbinger of things to come this winter. "Not necessarily," explains Mike Halpert of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in this week's ENSO blog post.

How to interpret climate outlooks and make $$$$ millions.*

**OK, maybe an overstatement, but you'll at least understand probabilistic forecasts better.  

sea surface height anomaly from satellite data

What's behind the drop in probabilities this month? And why might forecasting this event be particularly tricky?

How can warming at Earth’s surface have slowed when energy accumulation is growing? The role of our oceans—including ENSO—is key.

How El Niño is like different flavors of ice cream.  Seriously.

The forecasts often provided useful information for the coming few months, but had more limited accuracy and value in forecasting beyond that.

June 2009 SST anomalies

As of late August 2014, tropical atmospheric temperatures appear to be responding more strongly to the ocean than they typically do at this early stage of El Niño development.   

If you are someone who wants more or stronger ENSO events in the future, I have great news for you–research supports that. If you are someone who wants fewer or weaker ENSO events in the future, don’t worry–research supports that too.

sea-surface height from satellite data

Forecasters are still calling for a 65% chance of El Nino conditions being met in the next few months. Isn't this late for the start of an ENSO event? 

2003 CA fire

El Niño could bring increased rain to California. How might this affect the threat of wildfire?

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