2014-2015 NOAA El Nino Winter Outlook
J Thoendell stashed this in California
It’s been a confusing couple of weeks trying to figure out whether or not El Niño is going to come to a fluffy white head this winter. Early in the summer the forecast looked extra promising, with an 80 percent chance of an El Niño for the US this winter. As summer progressed though, weather authority NOAA announced a dwindling chance of an El Niño, as well as the possibility of having a weaker El Niño, which could mean less snow for some areas than expected.
On September 4, NOAA dropped it’s freshest update on how El Niño is shaping up for the US. It says there’s still a 60–65 percent chance of an El Niño happening this winter, which would normally mean more storms for the southern half of the US, especially the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. But the way things are shaping up, forecasters are now calling for the peak of the event to be weaker than average, meaning there won’t necessarily be more snow. In the past the relationship between above-average precipitation and El Niño has been less predictable during a weaker event, with “approximately one-third of the (weak) events featuring above-average precipitation, one-third near-average precipitation, and one-third below-average precipitation,” according to NOAA.
So what does this mean? Right now, the chances of El Niño bringing more snow to our coldest regions, and more precipitation to California, are still totally up in the air. Any El Niño event brings the potential for much needed precipitation across large parts of the US, but the weaker the event gets the more unpredictable it becomes, leaving us anxiously awaiting the next NOAA forecast.