The 2014/15 El Niño – Part 11 – Is the El Niño Dying?

There’s still a possibility the 2014/15 El Niño could die even though it had so much promise just a few months ago.  In this post, we’ll compare a few indicators now to where they were 2 months ago at the start of the El Niño enthusiasm.  Some of them show an off-season event quickly drawing to a close.  We’ll examine other metrics that show the El Niño may not be done yet.  And we’ll look at data for a couple of occasions when El Niños looked promising in the first part of the year and then failed to form into a full-fledged El Niño during the remainder. One year, we were coming out of back-to-back La Niñas and the ENSO models predicted an El Niño, and for the other year, El Niño conditions evolved early, like this year, but then retreated over the rest of the year.

First, let’s clear up one thing.  I’m not saying the 2014/15 El Niño will die. However, data-based maps and cross sections of the warm water in the eastern tropical Pacific indicate the warm water from the Kelvin wave is being “consumed” quite rapidly.  If they’re correct, there won’t be much warm water left if and when we see the feedbacks required to further evolve and sustain the El Nino.  Then again, the warm water volume data above the thermocline and depth-averaged temperature data to 300 meters, both for the eastern equatorial Pacific, indicate the warm water is not disappearing as fast as suggested by the maps and cross sections.


In his recent blog post Why do ENSO forecasts use probabilities? at the NOAA ENSO blog, Tony Barston of IRI noted:

For all of the seasons being predicted in this particular forecast, El Niño is the most likely category, with the red bars towering over the other bars.  During the latter part of 2014 its probability is near or above 80%. This is a fairly confident forecast for El Niño, but it does still leave about a 20% (1 in 5) chance of it not happening.

While it’s not a high probability according to the models, there is a chance that this El Niño could die.  But let’s look at a few indicators other than models.


The chatter about a possible El Niño for the 2014/15 season skyrocketed in April this year.  It was based on the strong Kelvin wave that had traveled east across the equatorial Pacific. Due to the strength of that Kelvin wave, some ENSO researchers and laypeople started proclaiming a super El Niño was on the way, but the feedbacks needed to turn this El Niño into a super El Niño, like the one in 1997/98, failed to develop. That is, after the westerly wind bursts that initiated the Kelvin wave this year, the trade winds have not weakened to further help the development on the El Niño.  The researchers have since cut back on their estimates of the size of the El Niño, and the models are still predicting a remote chance an El Niño will not continue to develop this year.  All depends on the trade winds, which may not cooperate…and so far they have not.

That initiating Kelvin wave and the reasons for its existence were discussed in detail in the first post in this series.  Also see the latest (2 weeks old) gif animation of sea surface height anomalies and subsurface temperature anomalies for the top 300 meters of the oceans I prepared for the June update, and refer to the latest animation of the temperature anomaly cross sections for the equatorial Pacific from that post.  A couple of weeks have passed since that update and appearances have changed drastically in that time. So let’s take a look at a few gif animations that compare the most recent maps and equatorial cross sections to those from 2 months earlier. The maps and cross sections are available from the NOAA GODAS website.

Animation 1

Animation 1 – Equatorial Cross-Section (Subsurface Temperature Anomalies)

# # #

Animation 2

Animation 2 – Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

# # #

Animation 3

Animation 3 – Depth-Averaged Temperature Anomalies to 300 Meters

# # #

Animation 4

Animation 4 – Sea Surface Height (Sea Level) Anomalies

While the sea surfaces of the equatorial Pacific have warmed in those two months, the other metrics show weakening remnants of that Kelvin wave.  Some of that decline happened because that warmer-than-normal water is rising to the surface, where heat is being released to the atmosphere through evaporation.  But, there’s something else to consider, and we illustrated and discussed it in the second post of this series.  The ocean heat content of the eastern tropical Pacific (24S-24N, 180-80W) was much lower before this El Niño began than it was before the start of the 1997/98 El Niño. See the graph here.  In other words, while the Kelvin wave this year was strong, it traveled eastward into a cooler environment. That may also be impacting the evolution of this El Niño.

The title of the post is based on the recent maps of pentadal (June 17th) GODAS depth-averaged temperature anomalies and sea surface height anomalies and on their equatorial cross sections of subsurface temperature anomalies, not on sea surface temperature anomalies.  Later we’ll take a look at the data from the NOAA Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) Project website.


Preliminary discussion: If we looked at the evolutions for all of the El Niño events since 1982, the evolution so far this year would not look out of place.  See the 4th post in this series.  In other words, don’t sell this one short…yet.  And as we’ll see with the sea surface temperature anomalies for the NINO1+2 region, strong east Pacific El Niño events can develop quite late in the year.  But Figures 1 and 2 (that follow), along with the graphs in the 4th post in this series, can give you an idea of the problems researchers face when trying to predict an El Niño early in the season. No two El Niño events are the same…and some of them can fail to develop.

In a number of the posts in this series about the 2014/15 El Niño, we’ve illustrated the evolution of the sea surface temperature anomalies for a number of NINO regions this year and compared them to the evolutions of the strong El Niños of 1982/83 and 1997/98.  Of course, for the (most commonly used) NINO3.4 region, the sea surface temperatures for this El Niño are far below those for those super El Niños. But in the eastern equatorial Pacific, in the NINO1+2 region (south and west of the Galapagos), the sea surface temperature anomalies this year are between those for the two often-referenced strong events.

But where does this El Niño fall when compared to a year when El Niño conditions developed early but then failed to last long enough to meet the requirements for an “official” El Niño…or for a year where the models predicted an El Niño but an El Niño failed to form?  For an El Niño to be an official event in NOAA’s eyes, a 3-month running average of the sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region must remain at or above +0.5 deg C for 5 consecutive months. (See NOAA’s ONI webpage.)  In 1993, weekly NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomalies rose above 1.0 deg C early in the year, considerably higher than where we are this year, but then weakened.   And in 2012, the ENSO models were predicting an El Niño for the 2012/13 season, but one failed to develop. See pages 25 to 28 of the WaybackMachine-archived NOAA ENSO Update for June 11, 2012.  So let’s add 1993 and 2012 to the evolution comparisons.  See Figure 1 for the NINO3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W) data, and Figure 2 for the NINO1+2 region (10S-0, 90W-80W).

Figure 1

Figure 1

# # #

Figure 2

Figure 2

Again, if we were to add all of the El Niño events since 1982 to those graphs, the current values would not be out of line.  But Figures 1 and 2 illustrate that the equatorial Pacific can give evidence of an El Niño early in the year, and then the El Niño can fail to develop to meet NOAA’s requirements for an official event. And in 2012, the ENSO models were predicting an El Niño and the models missed the mark.  The sea surface temperatures warmed in mid-year, but then quickly returned to ENSO neutral conditions.


According to the TAO Project data, the warm water volume (above the thermocline) and the depth-averaged temperature (to 300 meters) for the eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 155W-80W) indicate there’s still a chunk of warm water left.  See Figures 3 and 4.  (I’ve included 1993 and 2012 solely as references in those graphs. Someone was bound to ask.)

Figure 3 T300 East

Figure 3

# # #

Figure 4 WWV East

Figure 4


Curiously, the maps and cross sections appear to show a quick drop in the warm water volume, sea surface height, and depth-averaged temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific but the data, which for June are month-to-date values, do not seem to reflect that.  Why?  The “data” presented by the TAO website is actually a reanalysis based on the data from their floats, and it’s calculated from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Research Center (BMRC) Ocean Analyses. See the TAO project “read me” file here.  And while I know the values of the data for the current month do change over the course of the month, I do not know how frequently they’re updated at the TAO project website. (I downloaded it this morning.) On the other hand, the maps and cross sections at the GODAS website are based on NOAAs GFDL MOM.v3 reanalysis. See the GODAS introduction here (pdf).

Both reanalysis should be relying on the same TAO project buoy data, and one would think they both would be using data from ARGO. GODAS appears to use satellite altimetry data for their sea surface height maps, but is satellite altimetry also used in the BMRC reanalysis?  Dunno.  One of the problems may be the reduced operation of the TAO project floats, caused by NOAA budget cuts. (See the concluding remarks at the end of first post in this series.)  And another problem may be, there may not be enough sensors that far to the east along the equatorial Pacific. See the bottom cell of Figure 5.

Figure 5

Figure 5

The bottom cell of Figure 5 presents the buoy-based observations used in the Reynolds OI.v2 sea surface temperature data for the week of June 15-21, 2014. In addition to surface temperatures, the TAO project buoys in the tropical Pacific (blue circles) also measure subsurface temperatures, as do the ARGO floats (red dots).  We can see that the TAO project buoys in the eastern tropical Pacific are operational (or were last week), but they only reach as far east as 85W.

Which reanalysis is correct?  The new NOAA Real Time Multiple Ocean Reanalysis Intercomparison website presents their comparisons of 6 reanalyses on a monthly basis, so they would not have captured the sharp decline in recent weeks shown in the GODAS maps and cross-sections.  For a quick introduction to the NOAA Real Time Multiple Ocean Reanalysis Intercomparison website, see the post here.

It really is unfortunate that NOAA cut the budget for the maintenance of the TAO project floats.


Without more westerly wind bursts and a weakening of the trade winds in the western equatorial Pacific, the warm water in the eastern equatorial Pacific will continue to decline, and we could very possibly have another ENSO-neutral year.

So far, those feedbacks have not kicked in.  See the most recent post in this series (Part 10) for a further discussion.


And for additional introductory discussions of El Niño processes see:


My ebook Who Turned on the Heat? goes into a tremendous amount of detail to explain El Niño and La Niña processes and the long-term aftereffects of strong El Niño events.  Who Turned on the Heat? weighs in at a whopping 550+ pages, about 110,000+ words. It contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 380 color illustrations. In pdf form, it’s about 23MB. It includes links to more than a dozen animations, which allow the reader to view ENSO processes and the interactions between variables.

I’ve lowered the price of Who Turned on the Heat? from U.S.$8.00 to U.S.$5.00.  A free preview in pdf format is here.  The preview includes the Table of Contents, the Introduction, the first half of section 1 (which was provided complete in the post here), a discussion of the cover, and the Closing. Take a run through the Table of Contents.  It is a very-detailed and well-illustrated book—using data from the real world, not models of a virtual world. Who Turned on the Heat? is only available in pdf format…and will only be available in that format.  Click here to purchase a copy.  Thanks. (I also am very thankful when I receive tips or donations.)


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June 23, 2014 5:25 am

As it gets colder and colder (It is snowing in Europe today!!) the el Nino/la Nina events will slowly weaken.

Bill Illis
June 23, 2014 5:26 am

The fuel for an El Nino is spent.
Most of the warmer water has surfaced now and it is entering the east-west flow at the surface. The Trades have actually strengthened considerably in the last few weeks and the east-west flow at the surface is now faster than normal. So Nino 3.4 will peak in the next month or so at about a moderate 1.5C or so. It is already at 1.05C.

Joseph Murphy
June 23, 2014 5:33 am

Thanks for the update, Bob! I appreciate all the work you put in to educate us all on these weather events.

June 23, 2014 5:42 am

Excellent, Bob. Thanks. I think I’m finally beginning to understand all this. 😉

Man Bearpig
June 23, 2014 5:51 am

“During the latter part of 2014 its probability is near or above 80%. This is a fairly confident forecast for El Niño, but it does still leave about a 20% (1 in 5) chance of it not happening.”
So, El Nino = “We told you so ..” ..
El Nada = “We told you so ..” ..

June 23, 2014 6:00 am

“There’s still a possibility the 2014/15 El Niño could die even though it had so much promise just a few months ago.”
So isn’t that just another sign of climate change?

June 23, 2014 6:21 am

Thanks Bob. With the 5-month requirement to exceed 0.4C it is already past the point of no return for an El Nino to occur in 2014. There is no possibility now unless climatologists invent a new type of El Nino to fit the facts. They could, as they are obliged to keep funding flowing.
Plenty of time to prepare for what will be the next El Nino, from about July 2015 onwards.

Alex Baker
June 23, 2014 6:29 am

Are the timing, strength, and location of recent volcanic activity (last 45-60 days) be contributing to the apparent downturn in the El Nino?

June 23, 2014 6:33 am

Excellent unbiased presentation of the data. Here in southern Australia, we are about to be hit by what the media is calling a “Megablizzard” with the biggest snowfalls in 10 years. If this ElNino fades out (as it looks likely), then this will definitely be the 18th consecutive year of no-warming. 2 more years, and when it hits 20 years, even the MSM will start to cover their own ass*s by making it public news. Unfortunately, I doubt it will be mainstream news until we hit the 20 year mark. If conservative politicians have any brains (which they dont), they will start bombarding the political scene with anti-AGW talk from 2015 onwards.

June 23, 2014 6:34 am

I subscribe to WeatherBell, and as usual Joe B. and Joe D. are thus far right on the money. Been calling for a short-lived, weak to moderate event (Modoki) since the beginning. The alarmist, super el nino hype was as predictable as it was wrong.

Scottish Sceptic
June 23, 2014 7:11 am

Reblogged this on ScottishSceptic and commented:
A great article by Bob Tisdale on WUWT – I’m particularly interested in the concept of “feedbacks” in the development of the El Nino as this fits in nicely with ideas I’ve been considering on Natural variation.

Alan Robertson
June 23, 2014 7:15 am

Bob says:
“While the sea surfaces of the equatorial Pacific have warmed in those two months, the other metrics show weakening remnants of that Kelvin wave. Some of that decline happened because that warmer-than-normal water is rising to the surface, where heat is being released to the atmosphere through evaporation. ”
Perhaps that explains the increasing rainfall in the drought- stricken regions of the US Southwest, particularly in West Texas and SW Oklahoma.

Mike W
June 23, 2014 7:50 am

Don’t you already know? The only explanation the El Nino might die is because the heat is being sucked into the deep ocean where the global warming monster is waiting and preparing for an all out attack.

June 23, 2014 8:23 am

Thanks, Bob.
It is fantastic to follow the development of the 2014 El Niño in your excellent posts.
Time will tell, we keep on watching nature do its thing.

Doug Proctor
June 23, 2014 8:31 am

The first post I looked at indicated 4 or 6 weeks worth of warm water left to come to the surface. Looks like only a couple of weeks now. So, once that pulse of warm water is over, is that the end for El Nino energy, or is there some other following process that brings rain to California etc.?

June 23, 2014 8:33 am

Thanks again Bob. I really enjoy your posts as I learn a lot and you dumb it down for those of us who are not conversant in the vernacular of the trade.
Actually, your series is better than most of the ones on the boob tube. So I eagerly await the next installment.

Joseph Bastardi
June 23, 2014 8:42 am

So when are the hype artists gonna to be held accountable. Bob, you have watched me take this thing apart from when Trenberth etal completely ignored the physical realities of the overall climate cycle we are in ( MEI set up is huge) and the physical realities of the overall global pattern to spout this stuff. Its not that I am after him per se, because before this it was Hansen every time an el nino was showing up. It should be obvious they are blind to reality as to what caused the super ninos and the pattern we are in now. Joe D Aleo’s ideas on this, developed over 40 years of watching this and having to make operational forecasts where he gets paid for being right, not theorizing or pushing an agenda, far outdo anything you see from these people today.
And he developed all of it on his own dime.
OnlyGod knows tomorrow, the rest of us just take our shot. But when I see someone simply staring at one thing, when the whole creation is an infinite system where the result is a product of all that is in the system, I will call him out before the fact and see who is right
The biggest question is how does a neanderthal climate dumbo in pa. take this apart in April.
And by the way, just what happened to the arctic death spiral?
As far as Trenberths missing heat, he ought to defer to Bill Gray, who’s ideas predate his repackaging and blaming it on AGW or climate change or whatever he is pushing. And I would venture to guess Bills ideas, like D’aleos cost a heck of alot less than what is being funded and pushed on the public dole.
Its time to take off the gloves and hold these hysterics accountable. There is nothing new under the sun, only people who refused to look before and are so arrogant they think they know tomorrow by “discovering” something that was always there

Pamela Gray
June 23, 2014 8:45 am

Given a lack of significant recharge events to keep up with the rising atmospheric temperature steps of discharge events, let us hope we do not have an El Nino. We can’t spare the heat. I speculate we are at the knee of heat stored up since the 70’s. If we do not get a La Nina soon, the next steps will be heading back down.
Why do I think we are at the knee and heading back down? I speculate the reason is in the length and stubborn strength of the La Nada/Neutral/El Nado events.

Pamela Gray
June 23, 2014 9:03 am

Alex, I don’t believe recent volcanic activities have injected sufficient ash/sulfur loads to significantly atmospherically veil and thus affect ENSO processes. The Samalas event in 1258 most assuredly did. It is considered to be the strongest such event globally over the past 7000 years and it was an equatorial event. The recent activity isn’t even a tiny blip compared to that one.

DD More
June 23, 2014 9:03 am

Bob says – “Preliminary discussion: If we looked at the evolutions for all of the El Niño events since 1982, the evolution so far this year would not look out of place.”
Too bad we do not have comparable data points to see the evolutions when the PDO / SIO was in the alternate modes between the 1940 – 1980 time frame and see how the mixing waters in the east Pacific changed the outlook.

June 23, 2014 9:20 am

One things for sure. The powerful PDO
signature in the North Pacific continues.

June 23, 2014 9:33 am

Do you think the two recent hurricane/cyclones in the eastern pacific could have anything to do with the weakened potential?

Greg Goodman
June 23, 2014 9:47 am

One thing I still don’t see getting discussed is where huge volume of warmer water reaching down to 150m goes to. We see this in the flipper animation 1 above.
There is very little communication with the surface and eastern eq. Pacific barely seems to change at all, yet all this heat disappears from the equatorial section.
The only answer I can see is it’s moving out sideways away from 0 North. This also addresses the related question of where did it come from, since I saw little evidence of that amount of heat arising through some kind of “downwelling” wave from the western Pacific.
We see this reflected in the GODAS 300m maps in animation 3. April is highly contrasted at the equator with well defined warm and cool bands around the equator. This has largely dissipated 2mo later. A similar pattern is reflected in sea heights in amin 4.
SST shows a somewhat different picture with a build up in west Pacific warm pool ( particularly around 15N ) and below Alaska, with a deepening cooler zone around 30N in between.
Recalling that in 2014 an eclipse occurred shortly after the spring equinox, at the end of March, the whole pattern suggests warmer tropical waters being concentrated towards the equator by stronger than average tidal forces, with this condition relaxing in the two months that follow as both solar and lunar declination increases.
At least part of the underlying causes of El Nino triggering conditions seems to be tidally driven.
Rendez-vous next spring when the eclipse will be even near the equinox. Maybe then it will be strong enough to trigger some feedbacks and build into a real El Nino.

June 23, 2014 9:54 am

Here’s a News Flash: Scientists are really bad at forecasting any Earth, Sun, or galactic, process past about 8 days.

Greg Goodman
June 23, 2014 10:04 am

Joe Bastardi: “And by the way, just what happened to the arctic death spiral?”
One of the defining characteristics of a death spiral is ever increasing spin. That requires an every increase energy input . They seem to have reached a point when they can no longer supply the necessary energy to maintain the required level of spin.

June 23, 2014 10:06 am

Climate Central attempt to stoke the El Nino fears. They post a useless SST map, instead of anomaly map.

June 23, 2014 10:08 am

So the El Nino is dying, Antarctica sea ice at record levels, Arctic sea ice projected to go above normal & Ice on Lake Superior up until a week ago and yet the NOAA and GISS still have 2014 trending as the warmest year ever.

richard verney
June 23, 2014 10:12 am

I am hoping that there is not a strong El Nino event before 2021.
Certainly, it is important that there is not a strong El Nino event until after the 2015 Climate Summit. For sanity to prevail, it is important that the warmists cannot point to a resumption of warming, and if there were to a significant step change as happened in and around the 1998 Super El Nino, you can bet your bottom dollar that the linear trend would be presented at these conferences and the claim that CO2 is steadily pushing up temperatures.
How the warmists would like to claim that the ‘pause’ is over.
China has indicated that it will take no steps on emission quotas prior to 2020. I understand that it will between now and then re-evaluate matters. If there is no resumption to the warming prior to the end of 2020, the ‘pause’ will be more than 22 years, in fact it could be quite a bit longer than that if there is between now and then a slight fall in global temperatures.
The best prospects for sanity is that there are no strong El Nino events prior to 2021. If that is the case, one can expect to see more an more papers on climate sensitivity which suggest that climate sensitivity is at most modest, ie., less than 1.7 degC per doubling, and possibly weak, ie., tending towards no more than 1.3 degC per doubling. One can, in these circumstances, expect to see the bell curve come towards the low end of the spectrum which will take the ‘C’ out of AGW.

Bob Weber
June 23, 2014 10:15 am

Paul says:
June 23, 2014 at 6:00 am
“There’s still a possibility the 2014/15 El Niño could die even though it had so much promise just a few months ago.”
So isn’t that just another sign of climate change?
“Solar change” is your sign. Climate change comes from solar changes. Solar activity ramped up late last year and has since tapered off. The “recharge” of the oceans from that rampup is now dissipating. If and only if there is another spike in solar activity this year will there be an El Nino. Since NOAA/NASA has declared cycle 24 to have peaked or is peaking, the chances for another spike are possible but the odds for it are decreasing as time goes on. That said, the Sun is full of surprises.
aaron says:
June 23, 2014 at 9:33 am
Do you think the two recent hurricane/cyclones in the eastern pacific could have anything to do with the weakened potential?
The two events mentioned resulted from short-term solar flux & impulsive spikes that featured several X-flares and M-flares. Solar events cause extreme weather events. Events cause events, not trends, averages or carbon dioxide concentrations. Detrending and smoothing data obscure the reality from researchers that the ocean accumulates heat during higher solar activity periods.
People who hang their hats on a “rigid” TSI will NEVER understand the solar-terrestrial connection.
Bob Tisdale does great work. The answer to his query, “Who turned up the heat?” is… the SUN.
The SUN causes warming, cooling, and extreme weather events, not CO2!

Pamela Gray
June 23, 2014 10:27 am

Bob W., your post is full of vacuous connections with absolutely no hint of mechanism. Your theory is based on belief, not mechanism, as are the folks who “believe” in human-induced climate change.

June 23, 2014 10:28 am

I am hoping that there is not a strong El Nino event before 2021…… For sanity to prevail, it is important that the warmists cannot point to a resumption of warming, and if there were to a significant step change as happened in and around the 1998 Super El Nino, you can bet your bottom dollar that the linear trend would be presented at these conferences and the claim that CO2 is steadily pushing up temperatures. How the warmists would like to claim that the ‘pause’ is over.
Unfortunately, The NOAA and GISS (and Hadley???) have got their orders to end the pause by any means necessary.
As such they are manipulating their Data to make 2014 the warmest year ever and end the pause.
Even though the RSS and UAH each month this year has been anywhere from only the 10th – 13th warmest. All months so far at the NOAA and GISS have been the warmest or tied for the warmest ever.
So it won’t matter what the El Nino, or Antarctic or Arctic do, the fix is in.
I hope the Skeptics are prepared to answer their lies when next year they claim the pause is over.

Gary Pearse
June 23, 2014 10:42 am

A lot of pot shots at the CAGW faithful and their super El Nino. These are not justified because presently they are not preaching the science here but are simply praying, dreaming, wishing. They have fallen forlornly silent after a wisp of hope and a magnifying glass. The beginning of their desperation manifested itself when they let go of their CO2 knobs and brazenly dipped into the hated natural variation charms, quiet sun and anything else they can grasp seeking release from the horrible pressure of the ‘pause’. The poor dears have just jettisoned the blue UNISYS SST map and replaced it with a map engulfed in flames, believing that will help – too much recent training in delivering effective climate communications.
Bob, El Nino is fizzling. You can be braver here. There is an enormous pool of cold water moving up the west coast of South America to mix with the warm water. The galloping extension of the Antarctia ice sheet, Southern Ocean cooling and the movement north of these waters will snuff out this candle.

Bob Weber
June 23, 2014 10:58 am

Excuse me Pam, we’ve been through this the other day, once again, you are assuming. Perhaps you could start investigating what I say instead of popping off because you don’t understand what I say. Start here:, and read the two papers David Stockwell wrote that are linked at the very top of the article. This came from Niche Modeling – David Stockwell, a link provided up on the Skeptical Views sidebar above. Get back to me after you read those and tell you more. Until then, stop reacting.

Richard Keen
June 23, 2014 11:05 am

Bob, thanks for the extensive Nino updates – good stuff, as always.
I think the handwriting on the wall for this apparently failing el Nino began in February. There was a westerly wind burst associated with a cross-equatorial tropical cyclone pair in January, but none since. You may recall I wrote a paper on this in 1981, “The Role of Cross-Equatorial Tropical Cyclone Pairs in the Southern Oscillation.” readable at:
Those “Cross-Equatorial Tropical Cyclone Pairs” are simultaneous, oppositely-rotating tropical cyclones straddling the equator, and are quite effective at kicking off Kelvin waves – but only if they’re out in the open Pacific, away from the big islands, and especially effective if they’re near the Date Line. The cyclone pairs have two favored seasons, November-December and March-April, when the North and South Pacific cyclone seasons overlap and the ITCZ is closest to the equator.
The 1974-75 incipient Nino apparently failed because there were no suitable cyclone pairs, and this year seems to be following the same route.
Usually, as in 1982 and 1997, the critical season for cyclone pairs kicking off an el Nino is the March-April one. This year there were none; in 1982 and 1997 there were many. In 1997 there were cyclone pairs into June, and they resumes in October (I recall).
BTW, my quick link for following the daily shenanigans of the tropical Pacific is this:
There’s always the chance the November-December season will step up to the plate and el Nino actually appears, so I’ll close with the usual caveat (my CYA, as it were) about the future, from Yogi Berra:
It ain’t over till it’s over.

June 23, 2014 11:14 am

is sing of el niño dying that Florida have been drier lately ????
i meant in niño years, rains a lot in Florida

June 23, 2014 11:21 am

Waiting for el Ninot scene 6
He’s finally coming! I have it on good authority that they are bringing El Ninot this way, very soon. O my friend – all our waiting and now the day has finally arrived!
What do they mean “bringing him”?
What does it matter – no doubt he has some associates. He’s a person of some consequence. How is my suit looking?
Ummm – you may just want to find something a shade darker.
You’re mumbling again – look – is this them coming now?! What are they carrying? Some kind of box…
Estragon my friend – things dont look so good for our great, would-be benefactor El Ninot.
Farewell El Ninot
[Both remove their hats in silence ]

June 23, 2014 11:23 am

Sorry – only the title was meant to be bold.

June 23, 2014 11:37 am

I remember thinking the other day on your post about the NOAA Ocean Surface Temp pages that the El Nino looked a bit weak. Hope it recovers, as another dry year (Or even another La Nina) for NorCal would be very bad.

June 23, 2014 11:43 am

Great post. Very well organized. However, I do believe I’ve found an error. On animated graph #2, it seems as though the most recent & two month ago charts are flipped, as the data seems to be in contradiction to the rest of the data presented.
Just pointing that out. Cheers!

June 23, 2014 11:45 am

We could use some rain in Southern California too…

June 23, 2014 11:53 am

“The biggest limiting factor for early season development thus far has been moderate to strong wind shear from the Gulf of Mexico, across the Caribbean and into the southern North Atlantic,” Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Wind shear occurs when air in the tropics blows from the west at high speeds over the middle layers of the atmosphere. These winds can prevent tropical systems from forming, limit intensification or lead their demise.

June 23, 2014 12:12 pm
Matthew R Marler
June 23, 2014 12:34 pm

Thanks again, Bob Tisdale.

Matthew R Marler
June 23, 2014 12:47 pm

Bob Weber: Excuse me Pam, we’ve been through this the other day, once again, you are assuming. Perhaps you could start investigating what I say instead of popping off because you don’t understand what I say. Start here:, and read the two papers David Stockwell wrote that are linked at the very top of the article.
thanks for the links. Has Stockwell made any predictions for the future, so his model can be tested on out of sample data? He has done an impressive effort of model fitting, but credence in the model requires that it be tested rigorously against out of sample data. The total number of models and parameterizations considered and rejected during the modeling process can’t be estimated from the papers, and with data series that have been as well-worked as these, it is hard to judge whether the winnowing process has produced a product that has predictive power.

June 23, 2014 12:52 pm

“the El Niño may not be done yet.”
There hasn’t been one to start with. There was a kelvin wave, yes, but we only saw warm “La Nada” conditions. The trade winds never really slackened. They did a bit in the far western Pacific, but not over the rest. Can’t have an El Nino without slack trades. Eastern jets are still meridional as they have been and haven’t gone to the more zonal pattern we see in a Nino condition. So I am not seeing the atmosphere screaming “nino” yet.

James at 48
June 23, 2014 12:54 pm

Well with us being in a negative phase PDO, there is a lot of damping that can squash an El Nino.

Bob Weber
June 23, 2014 1:03 pm

Pamela Gray, please see for any time period you wish (I recommend all of last year through this year for perspective), and look at the SSN, the 10.7 flux, and the solar flare data for each day. Compare day-to-day and see for yourself how over the course of time the solar output daily variation changes by far more than 0.1%, the number climate models are using. These are essential small steps you can take to educate yourself.
Today for example, according to 10.7 “radio flux” is 94. Yesterday, it was 101. A few weeks ago it was over 150. There is a significant physical relationship between the flux and temperatures here. I’m not getting into the mathematics here. Remember what David Archibald said, the threshold (according to him) for warming vs cooling is a radio flux of 100. That implies a figure of over 100 means it’s warming, and below it’s cooling. Now I don’t know if his threshold is the right number, but right now temps in the US are either mostly cooler than yesterday, or barely different, with a few warmer small areas. That is a real pattern in the data.
There’s much more to it than that, especially in the area of flare events and extreme weather events. I’d love to say more now, but I’m saving all the juicy stuff for my new website currently under construction called electricweatherdotcom. In the meantime, there’s a lot you can do yourself to understand what the Sun does in short timeframes to our weather.
Those who wish to hang on to the 0.1% solar constant are only fooling themselves and everyone else, and you know who you are. There’s an old saying: “You can’t fool anyone until you’ve fooled yourself first”. That applies to both climate modelers and some solar scientists. The use of trends, averages and smoothed data have hidden the vital truth that we are just 8 minutes away from solar activity changes directly affecting weather conditions and statistics, which all climate statistics are then based, allowing CO2 warmists to get away with all they do. Stay tuned. I’ll be back.

Bob Weber
June 23, 2014 1:09 pm

Matthew R Marler says:
June 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Yes, the concept is testable. There are real mechanisms at play. Much work is needed. That said, there is a mountain of evidence to support the concept Stockwell introduces. He’s not the only one who figured that out. Paul Vaughn published this yesterday: – same concept.

nutso fasst
June 23, 2014 1:15 pm

Bob Tisdale:

It really is unfortunate that NOAA cut the budget for the maintenance of the TAO project floats.

Indeed. And a travesty they’re taking down the USRCRN begun in 2009, in spite of protests from SW NWS stations where forecasters were using that near-real time data for improved short-term forecasts.
There’s $21.4 billion for Climate Change Expenditures in the 2014 budget, including, $2.66 billion for the US Global Change Research Program, $234.5 million for the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, $176.5 million for the EPA’s climate change programs, and up to $10 million for the IPCC/UNFCCC
Plenty of money for fear-mongering ‘education’ programs, but not enough for real data that might contradict the message.

June 23, 2014 2:07 pm

I am put off by your Figures 1 thru 4. They are comparing this year’s trend to known El Ninos.
But that ignores all the years that did not have El Ninos that may have had similar comparative months. How can you judge the probabilities of El Ninos if you don’t include the false alarms?
Take Figure 1. Show all years that show at least 1 deg C warming between week 1 and week 25. How many years is that? How many turned into El Nino’s? How about a 1.25 deg C warming? How about 1.5 deg C? Do this for a selection of thresholds and you will get a probability function of El Nino’s based upon observed warming in the first 25 weeks of a year.

June 23, 2014 2:10 pm

And a travesty they’re taking down the USRCRN begun in 2009.
?!?!? When did that happen? Was the announcement in Lois Lerner’s email archive?

June 23, 2014 3:02 pm

Thanks Bob. Great read.

Mike T
June 23, 2014 3:38 pm

A small thing. BMRC is the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre.

Matthew R Marler
June 23, 2014 5:01 pm

Bob Weber: Yes, the concept is testable. There are real mechanisms at play. Much work is needed. That said, there is a mountain of evidence to support the concept Stockwell introduces.
Let me try again: Has he published an actual prediction for, say, the next two decades, that we can read, download, store, and save for comparison to future data? The future course of the sun is not known, but he could formulate 3 possible trajectories, as Hansen did with CO2 trajectories, and make the prediction corresponding to each trajectory.

Pamela Gray
June 23, 2014 5:21 pm

Bob W. I stand by what I said about your posts. Show me in any raw data (or even the dreaded homogenized ones) temperature series you want to use that your speculation holds true throughout the data series. Here is why I know it will not. Earth’s own intrinsic variables have far greater energy to pull a shade down or up in front of the Sun and reflect away its miniscule variations. The noise of Earth’s highly variable environment buries solar variations in all its manifestations.
Your speculations are vacuous because of your disregard for Earth’s own far more powerful intrinsic short and long term variability that can be described and accounted for with plausible mechanisms. You however, seem all too eager to enter a room full of dung, ignore the elephant, and look for a mouse turd. However, on the bright side, I encourage you to go continue your work on your website and get it up and running. Please.

Big Mac & Chips
June 23, 2014 6:59 pm

is the el Nino dying ?
YES, seemingly according to WUWT own ENSO page @
Looking at these maps, maybe this is a different phenomenon altogether,
its quite unlike the “normal” el Nino, and is a bit different from a Modoki.
It’s hardly even a “southern oscillation”, and maybe it should be called
an “el nino extraviado”, (the lost child) or the ENEWO ….
( El Nino Extraviado Western Oscillation )
I am predicting an ENEWO which will dwindle away to a “normal” La Nina.
it’s as likely as not.

June 23, 2014 8:32 pm

There is a biological and electrical complexity involved and ENSO is no different than the tornadoes that Chandler has described as having an electrical complexity. There are several electrical things involved. The first is with surface lows CO2 comes out of solution and increases the conductivities of the clouds involved, thereby enhancing them. The second is that the warmer ocean water is, the LESS CO2 it can hold. In this case the warm upwelling water did not jump start the monsoonal features, which react to the fact that the warmer ocean water is, not only the more energy it can contain but the more conductive it becomes. It didn’t jump start the tropics in the EPAC, relatively speaking, because of huge dams in south central Mexico that have been constructed, which impacts carbonation levels in the near shore oceans there, and again conductivity, and a volcano in Indonesia, which also will have a conductivity implication on cloud behaviors, this time on the west side of the Pacific.

June 23, 2014 11:51 pm

Tisdale at 2:35 pm
How many additional years with early El Nino conditions since 1982 are there for me to add to that graph that weren’t already presented in the referenced post here:
From the most current version of the ONI link you provided:
On a first pass, I am looking for about a 1 deg C rise within the first 6 periods of the year.
V. Strong El Nino
1997 -0.5 to 1.2 (0.7 in May) peaks at 2.4 in Nov. 1997 V. Strong
1982 -0.1 to 0.7 (only a +0.8 in 6 months, but peaks at 2.2 in Dec. V. Strong
1972 -0.6 to 0.8 (0.4 in April) ElNeno under way, peaks 2.1 in Nov. V. Strong.
1965 -0.6 to 0.8 (0.5 in May), El Nino under way, Peaks 1.9 oct. V. Strong.
1957 -0.3 to 1.0 (0.7 in April), El nino underway), peaks 1.8 Dec, Strong and long.
Strong El Ninos:
2009: -0.8 to 0.4 (6 months) peaks to 1.6 in Dec 209 Strong.
2006 -0.9 to 0.1 (6 months) peaks at 1.0 in Nov. 2006 Strong
2002 -0.2 to 0.7 (6 months, El Nino underway) peaks at 1.3 in Nov. 2002
1968 -0.6 to 0.1 (6 months) peaks at 1.1 Mar 1969 for long El Nino Strong.
1963 -0.4 to 0.5 (6 months, El nino Threshold, Peaks 1.4, Strong.
1951 -0.8 to 0.4 (6 months), peaks 1.2 in oct. Strong.
Weak El Ninos
2012 -0.9 to 0.0 (6 months) peaks at 0.6 Weak
1976 -1.5 to -0.1 (6 months) peaks at 0.8 Nov. Weak
2011: -1.4 to -0.2 (6 months) sputters and peaks at 0.2. Fail
2008: -1.5 to -0.5 (6 months) peaks to -0.1 in Sept 2008 Fail
1996 -0.9 to -0.2 (only +0.7 in 6 months) at and fails.
1989 -1.7 to -0.4 (6 months) peaks at -0.3 Fail
1974 -1.9 to -0.7 (6 months) peaks at -0.4 Fail
18 cases in 63 years.
7 of 18 (about 40%) are failure or weak El Ninos. Each of these failures began from strong La Ninas. And None of the Failures are Positive by June.
5 of 18 are very strong El Ninos, but all are established El Ninos by June.
6 of 18 are strong, all are positive by june, only 1 is established as an El Nino.
I note that 2013 mimics 2014 closely for the first 4 months and 2013 remained between -0.4 and -0.2 the rest of the year.
Likewise 2001 is similar 2014 for the first 4 months. Yet remained neutral. 2001 and 2004 did not show a 1 deg rise.
On the other hand,
1986 -0.5 to 0.0 in 6 months, continued into a strong and long El nino peaking 1.6 in Aug. 1987.
So it would seem that a 1 deg rise in the first half of the year is not a sufficient condition to bring on an El Nino, 40% fail or sputter out, usually from the ending of a La Nina.
But if you couple a 1 degree rise in the first half of the year WITH a 0.0 to 0.5 by June, then I count no Failures, 1 weak, 5 Strong, zero very strong El Ninos. Not a big set, but then the conditions are restricted to “near El Nino”.

Jake J
June 24, 2014 12:00 am

We’re all ignorant about something, and I’m ignorant about this. Should I become knowledgeable, or should I wait until mid-summer like the meteorology professor in my home town, Seattle, suggested a few months ago?
A couple months ago, Cliff Mass of the U of Washington, wrote that the most likely outcome was a mild El Nino, but that we wouldn’t really know until mid summer. Reading between the lines of this writeup, it seems that his projection is on target so far.

June 24, 2014 7:23 am

I’m interested to see what the upcoming temp data, over the next few days/weeks will show. The big quakes (Alaska 7.9-8.0 and NZ 6.9) surely caused considerable mixing…could they be the final nail for this year’s El Nino?

G. Karst
June 24, 2014 7:49 am

As usual, first reports should never be regarded as valuable information. They will almost always mislead. GK

Jake J
June 24, 2014 11:57 am

Here is a link to Cliff Mass’s discussion of the prospects for a super El Nino. He wrote it on April 5th. He noted the warming in the sea surface temps of the tropical Pacific, and explained how this could be a precursor for a super El Nino. Then he attached tthree big caveats.
First, he said, was the low correlation between early spring readings and ultimate developments. You can’t begin to get confident of an El Nino forecast until July. Secondly, he pointed to models that projected a moderate El Nino, not a “super” El Nino. Thirdly, he wrote that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (a topic he’s discussed before) is wrong for a super El Nino — we’re in a cool phase, and super El Ninos tend not to occur in cool phases of the PDO.
He concluded by predicting “at least a weak El Nino next winter,” but cautioned that we won’t have a clear idea until mid-summer.
Mass is what you’d call here a “mild warmist,” of whatever the label for that is. I’ve always had the sense that he’s not fully on board with warming at all, but perhaps pulls that punch to keep his academic standing. He was blacklisted by the big public radio station a while back in what can only be described as a classic setup, and I’ve always suspected that the real motive was because he’s insufficiently alarmist for the “progressives” who things in Seattle.
Anyway, here’s the link:

June 24, 2014 12:26 pm

HELP! I have a dimwit of a friend who has taken to Youtube to proclaim that El Nino is roaring in with a vengeance. To prove her point, she shows the State of the Climate May 2014 Global Analysis as predicting this “powerful El Nino”
as affirming the El Nino because of the heat noted.
Second, she then shows the NOAA’s Land and Ocean Tempertaure Departure from Average 5/14
to further “prove” the onset of the El Nino and of the El Nino is getting worse (she eliminates January and Feburary, shows the map, then goes and only shows the month of May 2014. She then confirms “See, look that El Nino is getting much worse and that therefore “climate change” although miscalculated sometimes, must not be ignored!
Could you pretty please tell me why this is wrong? I doubt she is using those charts correctly, but I am confident someone could explain it to me, I could then take issue with this person.
Thanks Sherry

June 24, 2014 1:16 pm

Tisdale at 5:22 am to Stephen Rasey
Your presentation is not a response to my earlier reply to you.
It was. Look at the last paragraph.
The real issue is what are “early El Nino Conditions”?
If they are that we are already in an El Nino by April, well then of course there are no failures since the condition precludes them. Indeed a 1 deg rise, plus El Nino conditions by April gives 7 of 7 at least a Strong El Nino and 5 of 7 as very strong.
But If “early El Nino conditions” include cases where there has been 1 deg of warming, but we are not yet in El Nino, then what happens? That was the focus of my response. If we preface that we must be positive by June, then those years are:(failures) None, (weak) 2012; (strong) 2009, 2006, 1968, 1963, 1951; ( v. Strong) none)

Bill Illis
June 24, 2014 6:04 pm

One thing that has happened in the last few days is that the TAO buoys are coming back on-line (I guess they decided it was worth replacing them right now even though metal pirates continue to scavenge them).
95W 0N (which hasn’t been in operation for a couple of years and is by far the most important location) is looking very un-El-Nino-like right now.
I use this website for the TAO buoys since it is more useful (and has less bugs than the regular TAO site).

John F. Hultquist
June 24, 2014 8:48 pm

Sherry Moore says:
June 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm
“HELP! I have a dimwit of a friend who has taken to Youtube to proclaim that El Nino is roaring in with a vengeance.

You might try reading this:
It says there is not currently an El Niño. (early June)
ENSO pages include a definition on page 20 and a table on 23:
Your friend (? why) is the mouse that roars.
This reminds me of a joke about a person that entered a grocery repeatedly asking to buy some little brown onions. To paraphrase the punch line – There’s no xzy’n El Niño.

Mac the Knife
June 24, 2014 10:18 pm

Bob Tisdale,
Excellent post. Your clarity of explanations are leading this old metallurgical engineer to a glimmering of what drives the El Nino/La Nina cycles, and much of the corresponding weather effects on the USA. I (and many others, I’m sure) appreciate your efforts here. Thank You!
It seems we may be stuck with La Nada, some where between the I-can’t-commit El Nino and the fickle bitch La Nina. As in human relationships, ‘Time Will Tell…’.

June 25, 2014 9:12 am

Thanks John F. Hultquist, I sure appreciate your help! Thank you! 🙂

June 25, 2014 6:43 pm

Although some metrics may be faltering now, it’s much too early to write-off the prospects of a full-blown El Nino developing by the end of the year. The wide-band process is nowhere near predictable enough over a six-month horizon.
Two-dimensional temperature anomaly plots can be very misleading when advection and local forcing of changes are both involved, as it always is with oceanic data. The persistent aphysical notion that “warmer-than-normal water is rising to the surface” based on the position of anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific only obscures the true situation, in which temperature stratification persists over the weekly averaging intervals, without any upwelling.

June 26, 2014 10:35 am

Scripps Waverider buoy 46223 located at 33.459 N 117.767 W (33°27’31” N 117°46’2″ W) which is 3 miles west of Dana Point CA in 373M of water measured SST of 71.4F yesterday. The average reading on this day over the last 6 years is 67.5F. If this event unwinds it’s going to have to start soon.

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