When I got this press release from NOAA a few minutes ago, the first thing I did was check the NOAA NESDIS sea surface temperature map for the tell-tale El Niño pattern signature, because NOAA didn’t include any SST graphic in the press release. I sure don’t see an El Niño pattern in today’s SST product.Now, compare today’s product to the one from August 27th, 2009, when there actually was an El Niño, something they reference in the press release.
Seems like a reach to me, especially when the report referenced in the PR says:
Overall, these features are consistent with borderline, weak El Niño conditions.
Update: Confusion anyone? AP’s Seth Borenstein got this quote from the NOAA staffer quoted in the PR and tweeted it:
@afreedma Halpert acknowledges: "What we've learned from this event is that our definition is very confusing and we need to work on it."
— @borenbears (@borenbears) March 5, 2015
Update2: It seems there is a decision flowchart for calling an El Niño, I wonder if they followed it this time?
Here’s the PR:
Forecasters predict it will stay weak, have little influence on weather
Maureen O’Leary, email@example.com, 202-578-5257
March 5, 2015
The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today, forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.
Due to the weak strength of the El Niño, widespread or significant global weather pattern impacts are not anticipated. However, certain impacts often associated with El Niño may appear this spring in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“Based on the persistent observations of above-average sea surface temperatures across the western and central equatorial Pacific Ocean and consistent pattern of sea level pressure, we can now say that El Niño is here,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, and ENSO forecaster. “Many climate prediction models show this weak El Niño continuing into summer.”
Forecasters say it is likely (50 to 60 percent chance) that El Niño conditions will continue through the summer.
The last El Niño, in 2009-2010, was a moderate to strong event. Other recent El Niño’s took place from 2002-2003 (moderate), 2004-2005 (weak), 2006-2007 (weak to moderate). The last very strong El Nino was 1997-1998 and was known for providing heavy rainfall in the West, especially California. As for this year, “this El Nino is likely too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California,” added Halpert.
NOAA scientists will continue to monitor the situation and will issue its next monthly update on April 9.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels. Visit our news release archive.