El Niño & La Niña (El Niño-Southern Oscillation)
El Niño is still hanging around, and it’s expected to continue through spring or early summer, but the impact on U.S. weather during this transition season is usually minor. Meanwhile, NOAA issued a La Niña Watch: conditions are favorable for La Niña to emerge within 6 months. In particular, heat content in the central Pacific dropped below average in March for the first time in a year. NOAA’s next ENSO update will be released on May 12.
El Niño and La Niña are the warm and cool phases of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific—the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short.
The pattern can shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions of temperature, precipitation, and winds.
These changes disrupt the large-scale air movements in the tropics, triggering a cascade of global side effects.
El Niño is weakening and should be gone by early summer. Meanwhile, conditions are favorable for La Niña to emerge within 6 months. Neither phase of ENSO has a strong influence on summer temperature or precipitation in the U.S. However, if La Niña develops, it tends to suppress hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins, and to enhance it in the Atlantic.
U.S El Niño & La Niña impacts
Impacts on the hurricane season
Typical impacts on winter climate
Current seasonal outlooks
April-June 2016 national outlook
El Niño and La Niña have their strongest impact on global climate during the Northern Hemisphere winter & early spring. However, parts of the tropics and Southern Hemisphere sub-tropics feel the effects of ENSO during Northern Hemisphere summer months (June-August).
The map at left shows typical rainfall and temperature patterns in the Northern Hemisphere summer during La Niña events. These patterns become more likely during La Niña events, but they are not guaranteed. NOAA Climate.gov map.
Featured Resources & Articles
Images & Maps
ENSO across NOAA
Societal & ecosystem impacts
Regional & Local Impacts
ENSO @ the Ocean Institute of Peru (Spanish)
ENSO @ the Centro Internacional para la Investigación del Fenómeno de El Niño (CIIFEN) (western South America, Spanish)
Events & Announcements
NOAA National Weather Service Daily Briefing
Briefing page with forecasts, discussions, maps, assessments, and severe weather outlooks for today’s developing weather patterns across the United States.
El Nino: What's Next?
February 18, 11 am CT
Hosted by SCIPP
NOAA Monthly Climate Briefing for Media
Thursday, February 18, at 11 am EST
Teleconference for public media on past month’s weather & climate conditions for the U.S. & globe, an update on El Niño, and NOAA’s 3-month climate outlook.
California Winter Status Update
January 26, 4 - 6 pm EST