ENSO update – La Nada

Fall Colors

Fall has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest with the first significant storms of the fall season. I spied a dust of fresh snow around 9,000 feet this weekend, but snow levels remain high. Nonetheless, the return to a more seasonal wet flow feels good and lends a certain ski season feel to the air.

According to the experts at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, the forecasted El Niño is currently showing signs of weakening and settling into ENSO neutral, or La Nada for the time being. The official ENSO watch states, “Borderline ENSO-neutral / weak El Niño conditions are expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, possibly strengthening during the next few months.”

For those who have trouble keeping it straight, El Niño reflects a warming of the equatorial Pacific, while La Niña reflects a cooling. Generally speaking, La Niña is associated with bigger winters, especially here in the Pacific Northwest.

In classic long-term climate speak, the October ENSO report suggests the majority of models indicate borderline ENSO-neutral / weak El Niño conditions will continue, while others suggest that El Niño could still develop, but remain weak. ENSO neutral equates to an average winter with near normal temps and precip. Average in these parts can be pretty darn good, so I’m going with the neutral forecast. The beauty is that there’s nothing we can do about it, and the weater will be what it is. Still, I find some odd pleasure in reading what the climate scientists have to say. If you’d like to follow the latest ENSO info, NOAA releases a weekly update on ENSO conditions (on Mondays) and offers a monthly ENSO watch / forecast update.