A pool of warm ocean water has been building up in the equatorial Pacific ocean — a signature of El Niño. This usually “shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn change the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.,” according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center.
Expect warmer than average temperatures in the western and central United States., especially in the north-central states from Montana to Wisconsin. Meanwhile, my son, who has been suffering through withering heat and humidity this fall at the University of Miami, will get some relief if the forecast is correct: Temperatures below average are forecast across the Southeast and the mid-Atlantic region.
The Climate Prediction Center expects the developing El Niño to have significant effects on precipitation as well. Above average totals are forecast for the southern border states, especially Texas and Florida. This would improve drought conditions in central and southern Texas. But the CPC also says there could be “an increased chance of organized tornado activity for the Gulf Coast region this winter.”
In the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys, drier than average conditions are forecast. There’s a “slight tilt in the odds” in favor of wetter than average conditions in California, and equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation in the Northeast.
Just how misbehaved will this bad boy be? According to NOAA, “a moderate strength El Niño is most likely during the winter. A strong event is less likely, but still possible.”
In 1998, the child threw a major league tantrum, helping to drive up the global average temperature to record highs.