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.
The forecast models are largely in agreement that SSTs will continue to trend upward, with the majority of models indicating a Niño3.4 index value above 0.5°C by early summer. Forecast show the chance of El Niño increasing during the remainder of the year, exceeding 65% during the summer.
Though ENSO is a single climate phenomenon, it has three states, or phases, it can be in. The two opposite phases, “El Niño” and “La Niña,” require certain changes in both the ocean and the atmosphere because ENSO is a coupled climate phenomenon. “Neutral” is in the middle of the continuum.