March 2015 ENSO Update – Will the 2014/15 El Niño Become the 2014/15/16 El Niño?

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

This post provides an update of many of the ENSO-related variables we presented as part of the 2014-15 El Niño Series.  The reference years for comparison graphs in this post are 2009 and 2014, which are the development years of the last two El Niños.  I have not included animations in this post. In their place, I’ve compared present-day maps from the NOAA GODAS website to the same time in 2014.

Because there’s talk of this El Niño becoming a multiyear event, in an upcoming post, we’ll compare the current event to the 1986/87/88 El Niño, which was the only multiyear El Niño during the satellite and TAO project eras.


Early last month, NOAA announced El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific.  Of course, that announcement was, in part, necessary because the 2014/15 event will appear as a very weak El Niño on NOAA’s Oceanic NINO Index (ONI) this month, having begun in the Sep-Oct-Nov “season”. See Part 23 of the 2014/15 El Niño Series.  A second opinion: the ENSO Tracker dated March 31, 2015, from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) shows the tropical Pacific is currently in El Niño Watch conditions, which means we presently are not experiencing El Niño conditions. The March 10, 2015 update from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), which uses NINO3 region sea surface temperatures for their definition of El Niño conditions, was noting that the El Niño conditions (that began in boreal summer 2014) had ended. Then there’s NOAA’s Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI).  Their March 3rd update noted we’re presently in weak El Nino conditions.   Like much of last year, we’re getting mixed signals from the BOM, JMA and NOAA because of the different definitions of El Niño conditions and because of the weak El Niño conditions.

Because the sea surface temperature anomalies of the equatorial Pacific are at or above the threshold of an El Niño at the beginning of 2015, because a downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave is presently making its way eastward along the equatorial Pacific, and because of a recent westerly wind burst (which help to push warm water from west to east along equatorial Pacific), there is talk of the El Niño conditions (NOAA’s definition) continuing through the 2015/16 ENSO season.  But, not so fast: see the post Déjà Vu: El Niño Take Two at the NOAA ENSO blog.  Then again, according to the BOM’s definition, there is a 50% chance that El Niño conditions might develop in 2015.  See the BOM ENSO Wrap-Up. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) is also noting that El Niño conditions are more likely than ENSO-neutral conditions by boreal summer.  Again refer to the JMA’s March update.


This post provides an update on the progress of the evolution of the 2015/16 El Niño (assuming one continues using the NOAA definition) with data through the end of March 2015. The post is similar in layout to the updates that were part of the 2014/15 El Niño series of posts here. The post includes 17 illustrations so it might take a few moments to load on your browser.  Please click on the illustrations to enlarge them.

Included are updates of the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the four most-often-used NINO regions. Also included are a couple of graphs of the BOM Southern-Oscillation Index (SOI) and the NOAA Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI).

For the comparison graphs we’re using the El Niño evolution years of 2009 and 2014 (the last two El Niños) as references for 2015.  The 2009/10 El Niño was moderately strong, while the 2014/15 event was extremely weak and intermittent.

And since there is another downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave making its way east along the equator in the Pacific, also included in this post are evolution comparisons using warm water volume anomalies and depth-averaged temperature anomalies from the NOAA TOA project website.

Then, we’ll take a look at a number of Hovmoller diagrams comparing the progress so far this year to what happened in both 2009 and 2014.

Last, we’ll compare maps and cross sections (2014 and 2015) from the GODAS website of a number of ENSO-related metrics.


Note: The NOAA NOMADS website is still off-line (very loud growling noise heard from me), so I used the weekly NINO region sea surface temperature anomaly data for Figures 1 and 2 from the NOAA/CPC Monthly Atmospheric & SST Indices webpage, specifically the data here.  The data from NOAA NOMADS was provided with oodles of significant figures, while the NOAA/CPC data are provided in tenths of a degree C. The base years for anomalies for the NOAA/CPC data are referenced to 1981-2010.

Figure 1 includes the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies of the 4 most-often-used NINO regions of the equatorial Pacific. From west to east they include:

  • NINO4 (5S-5N, 160E-150W)
  • NINO3.4 (5S-5N, 170W-120W)
  • NINO3 (5S-5N, 150W-90W)
  • NINO1+2 (10S-0, 90W-80W)

As of the week centered on March 25, 2015, the sea surface temperature anomalies for all NINO regions were above the 0.5 deg C threshold of El Niño conditions.  Will they remain there, strengthen or weaken as we continue through the rest of the year?  Note that the horizontal red lines in the graphs are the present readings, not the trends.

Figure 1

Figure 1


Using weekly sea surface temperature anomalies for the four NINO regions, Figure 2 compares the goings on this year with the 2009/10 and 2014/15 events.  All of the NINO regions this year are warmer than during the same times of the reference El Niños. And that makes sense because we’re starting this year in weak El Niño conditions, where we weren’t during the two reference years.  There were La Niña conditions at the start of 2014 in the NINO3.4, NINO3 and NINO1+2 regions, and 2009 began at the end of the 2008/09 La Niña.

Figure 2

Figure 2


The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) is another ENSO index published by NOAA.  It was created and is maintained by NOAA’s Klaus Wolter.  The Multivariate ENSO Index uses the sea surface temperatures of the NINO3 region of the equatorial Pacific, along with a slew of atmospheric variables…thus “multivariate”.

According to the most recent Multivariate ENSO Index update discussion, weak El Niño conditions exist:

The updated (January-February) MEI has risen by 0.06 standard deviations to +0.47, for a slightly increased ranking, thus getting back above the weak El Niño threshold (upper 30%ile). Similar oscillations across this threshold were observed during the 2004-05 El Niño. Looking at the nearest 12 rankings (+/-6) in this season, four cases either maintained or even enter El Niño status for at least another 2 months during boreal spring, while four other cases dropped back to La Niña (4) by May-June, illustrating the so-called ‘spring-predictability barrier’ quite nicely.

There’s something else to consider about the MEI.  El Niño and La Niña rankings according to the MEI aren’t based on fixed threshold values such as +0.5 for El Niño and -0.5 for La Niña.  The MEI El Niño and La Niña rankings are based on percentiles, top 30% for the weak to strong El Niños and the bottom 30% for the weak to strong La Niñas.   This is difficult to track, because, when using the percentile method, the thresholds of El Niño and La Niña conditions vary from one bimonthly period to the next, and they can change from year to year.

Update: The Multivariate ENSO Index update discussion and data for January/February were posted back on March 3rd.  Figure 3 presents a graph of the MEI time series starting in Dec/Jan 1979.  And Figure 4 compares the evolution this year to the reference El Niño-formation years of 2009 and 2014.

Figure 3

Figure 3

# # #

Figure 4

Figure 4


The NOAA Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) Project website includes data for two temperature-related datasets for the equatorial Pacific.  See their Upper Ocean Heat Content and ENSO webpage for descriptions of the datasets.   The two datasets are Warm Water Volume (above the 20 deg C isotherm) and the Depth-Averaged Temperatures for the top 300 meters (aka T300).  Both are available for the:

  • Western Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-155W)
  • Eastern Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 155W-80W)
  • Total Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-80W)

Keep in mind that the longitudes of 120E-80W stretch 160 deg, almost halfway around the globe. For a reminder of width of the equatorial Pacific, see the protractor-based illustration here.

In the following three illustrations, we’re comparing data for the evolution of the 2015/16 “season” so far (through March 2015) with the data for the evolutions of the 2009/10 and 2014/15 El Niños. The Warm Water Volume data are the top graphs and the depth-averaged temperature data are the bottom graphs.  As you’ll see, the curves of two datasets are similar, but not necessarily the same.

Let’s start with the Western Equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 120E-155W), Figure 5. The warm water volume data show the Western Equatorial Pacific began 2015 with noticeably less warm water than during the opening months of 2009 and 2014. Depth-averaged temperature anomalies, though, are comparable to 2009 but noticeably less than last year.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Because we’re starting 2015 in El Niño conditions (or near to them), both warm water volume and depth-averaged temperature anomalies in the Eastern equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 155W-80W) are noticeably higher at the beginning of this year than in 2009 and 2014.  See Figure 6.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Across the entire equatorial Pacific, Figure 7, in 2015, warm water volume is slightly lower than in 2014 but noticeably higher than in 2009. Depth-averaged temperature anomalies in 2015 are slightly higher than in 2014 and, again, noticeably higher than in 2009.

Figure 7

Figure 7

It will be interesting to compare these metrics in 2014 and 2015 to the evolution of the multiyear El Niño of 1986/87/88.


The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is another widely used reference for the strength, frequency and duration of El Niño and La Niña events.  We discussed the Southern Oscillation Index in Part 8 of the 2014/15 El Niño series. It is derived from the sea level pressures of Tahiti and Darwin, Australia, and as such it reflects the wind patterns off the equator in the southern tropical Pacific.  With the Southern Oscillation Index, El Niño events are strong negative values and La Niñas are strong positive values, which is the reverse of what we see with sea surface temperatures.  The March 2015 Southern Oscillation Index value is -11.2, which is a greater negative value than the threshold of El Niño conditions. (The BOM threshold for El Niño conditions is an SOI value of -8.0.)   Figure 8 presents a time-series graph of the SOI data.  Note that the horizontal red line is the present monthly value, not a trend line.

Figure 8

Figure 8

The graphs in Figure 9 compare the evolution of the SOI values this year to those in 2009 and 2014…the development years of the 2009/10 and 2014/15 El Niños. The top graph shows the raw data. Because the SOI data are so volatile, I’ve smoothed them with 3-month filters in the bottom graph. Referring to the smoothed data, the Southern Oscillation Index this year is ahead of the values in 2009 and 2014.

Figure 9

Figure 9

For those of you interested in keeping a closer eye on the BOM Southern Oscillation Index, see the BOM Recent (preliminary) Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values webpage. For more than 2 weeks, the 30-day running-average of the SOI has been in El Niño conditions, while the 90-day running-average remains ENSO neutral.


NOTE:  The NOAA GODAS website has not yet added 2015 to their drop-down menu for Hovmoller diagrams. For the following illustrations, I’ve used the Hovmolller diagrams available for the past 12 months, deleted the 2014 date and aligned the 2015 data with the other 2 years.

Hovmoller diagrams are a great way to display data.  If they’re new to you, there’s no reason to be intimidated by them. Let’s take a look at Figure 10.  It presents the Hovmoller diagrams of thermocline depth anomalies (the depth of the isotherm at 20 deg C.  Water warmer than 20 deg C is above the 20 deg C isotherm and below it the water is cooler). 2015 is in the center, 2009 on the left and 2014 to the right.

The vertical (y) axis in all the Hovmollers shown in this post is time with the Januarys at the top and Decembers at the bottom.  The horizontal (x) axis is longitude, so, moving from left to right in each of the three Hovmoller diagrams, we’re going from west to east…with the Indian Ocean in the left-hand portion, the Pacific in the center and the Atlantic in the right-hand portion.  We’re interested in the Pacific. The data are color-coded according to the scales below the Hovmollers.

Figure 10

Figure 10

Figure 10 is presenting the depth of the 20 deg C isotherm along a band from 2S to 2N. The positive anomalies, working their way eastward early in 2014 and 2015, were caused by downwelling Kelvin waves, which push down on the thermocline (the 20 deg C isotherm).  You’ll note how, early in 2014, the anomalies grew in strength as the Kelvin wave migrated east. (We should expect the same to happen this year.) That does not mean the Kelvin wave is getting stronger as it traveled east; that simply indicates that the thermocline is normally closer to the surface in the eastern equatorial Pacific than it is in the western portion.  Note how there were also three downwelling Kevin waves each in 2009 and 2014.  The first in 2009 was much later in the year than in 2014.  And the last downwelling Kelvin wave in 2009 was much stronger than the first two, helping to reinforce the evolution of the 2009/10 El Niño so that it peaked at its “normal” season.  On the other hand, the strongest downwelling Kelvin wave in 2014 happened early in the year, very early in the “normal” ENSO season.

Will an upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave, which normally follows a downwelling (warm) Kelvin wave, suppress the development of the El Niño this year, as it had last year?  Or will an upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave be strong enough to flip the tropical Pacific into La Niña conditions?

Figure 11 presents the 2015-to-date along with the 2009 and 2014 Hovmollers for wind stress (not anomalies) along the equator.   The simplest way to explain them is that they’re presenting the impacts of the strengths and directions of the trade winds on the surfaces of the equatorial oceans. In this presentation, the effects of the east to west trade winds at various strengths are shown in blues, and the reversals of the trade winds into westerlies are shown in yellows, oranges and reds.  To explain the color coding, the trade winds normally blow from east to west; thus the cooler colors for stronger than normal east to west trade winds. The reversals of the trade winds (the yellows, oranges and reds) are the true anomalies and they’re associated with El Niños, which are the anomalous state of the tropical Pacific.  (A La Niña is simply an exaggerated normal state.)

Figure 11

Figure 11

The two westerly wind bursts shown in red in the western equatorial Pacific in 2014 are associated with the strong downwelling Kelvin wave that formed at the time. (See the post ENSO Basics: Westerly Wind Bursts Initiate an El Niño.)  Throughout 2009, there was a series of small westerly wind bursts in the western equatorial Pacific, with stronger ones later in the year. We didn’t see the continued westerly wind bursts in 2014, which suppressed the evolution of the 2014/15 El Niño.

Figure 12 presents the Hovmollers of wind stress anomalies…just a different perspective.  But positive wind stress anomalies, at the low end of the color-coded scale, are actually a weakening of the trade winds, not necessarily a reversal.

Figure 12

Figure 12

NOTE: There are a number of wind stress-related images on meteorological websites.  Always check to see if they’re presenting absolute values or anomalies.

And Figure 13 presents the Hovmollers of sea surface temperature anomalies. Unfortunately, the Hovmoller of sea surface temperature anomalies is delayed a few weeks at the GODAS website.  But as we’ve seen in the comparison graphs in Figure 2, the sea surface temperature anomalies of the NINO regions in 2015 are well ahead of those in 2009 and 2014.

Figure 13

Figure 13


As opposed to presenting animations from NOAA’s GODAS website of maps and cross sections of a number of metrics, I thought it would be better (more informative) to compare the most recent maps and cross sections from this year to those from the same time last year.   So let’s start with the cross sections of temperature anomalies along the equator.

Figure 14 compares the subsurface temperature anomalies along the equator (2S-2N) for the pentads (5-day averages) centered on March 29, 2015 (left) and March 29, 2014 (right).  The equatorial Indian Ocean is to the left in both Illustrations and the equatorial Atlantic is to the right.  We’re interested in the equatorial Pacific in the center.   The illustrations confirm what was shown in the depth-averaged temperature anomaly graphs in Figures 5 and 6.  The subsurface temperature anomalies in the western equatorial Pacific are cooler this year than last, but in the eastern equatorial Pacific, they’re warmer this year.

Figure 14

Figure 14

Figure 15 presents global maps of the depth-averaged temperature anomalies to depths of 300 meters (a.k.a. T300 anomalies).  Looking at the tropical Pacific as a whole, not just the equator, the downwelling Kelvin wave this year is traveling eastward into a warmer eastern tropical Pacific than last year.  That makes sense because El Niño conditions already exist this year according to NOAA.  Also note that the western tropical Pacific is much cooler this year than last.  Does this mean that the upwelling (cool) Kelvin wave that follows will be much stronger than the one last year? We’ll have to wait and watch.

Figure 15

Figure 15

Also note the T300 anomalies in the Northeast Pacific.  The “blob” still exists.

Sea surface height anomalies, Figure 16, are often used as a proxy for temperature anomalies from the surface to the ocean floor. They are showing lower sea levels in the western tropical Pacific this year than last and showing that the downwelling Kelvin wave is moving into a warmer eastern tropical Pacific.

Figure 16

Figure 16

The sea surface temperature anomaly maps at the GODAS website lag by a few weeks.  Figure 17 shows the sea surface temperature anomaly maps for 2014 and 2015 for the pentads centered on March 19th.  The sea surface temperature anomalies along the equatorial Pacific are warmer this year than last, concentrated this year just east and west of the dateline.  The eastern North Pacific is also warmer this year, with the remnants of the “blob” and the coastally trapped Kelvin wave(s) from last year. (I’ll compare North Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies, this year and last, for the North Pacific in the next sea surface temperature update.)

Figure 17

Figure 17

I fear it will take a very strong La Niña to overcome the effects of the “blob” on the North Pacific.  Even then, there may have been an upward shift in sea surface temperatures there, which would impact the entire east Pacific. We’ll have to keep an eye on it over the next few years.


For additional introductory discussions of El Niño processes see:

Also see the entire 2014-15 El Niño series.  We discussed a wide-range of topics in those posts.


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.

Last year, I 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.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Who Turned on the Heat? as a result of the 2014-15 El Nino series.  I learned a lot preparing the book. I hope you’ve learned a lot, too, studying it.

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April 5, 2015 8:48 am

the discussion re WHEN next El Niño will be more and more looks and sounds like someone listning to oracle in Delphi long ago but calling his/her assumption IT-model prediction.

April 5, 2015 8:48 am

It’s remarkable how similar the shapes of the 2009/10 and 2014/14 El Nino temperature anomaly graphs actually are. By my eyeball anyway.
Has anyone done a statistical comparison of the two?
It seems strange that they are so alike unless the anomalies are constrained by negative feedbacks. And thus El Ninos would always be limited.
The implications of that would be worthy of consideration, if my eyeball is right.

Ron Clutz
April 5, 2015 9:31 am

Thanks once again Bob for your continuing to present these facts.
Living on our water world means our temperatures fluctuate according to ocean circulations and oscillations, especially ENSO and IPO patterns in the Pacific basin.

Reply to  Ron Clutz
April 5, 2015 10:55 am

Arnd Bernaerts said it well in defining ‘climate as the continuation of the oceans by other means.’

Ron Clutz
Reply to  kim
April 5, 2015 11:01 am


Reply to  kim
April 5, 2015 12:50 pm

Both cool and warm!

April 5, 2015 9:38 am

from a person I do believe next enso 2020/21 la nina it’s going cold get ready if you can ..

Reply to  flea
April 5, 2015 12:06 pm

a 5-6 years out ENSO prediction… that’s hand waving IMO… and probably to a lot of other folks too.

April 5, 2015 9:38 am

Wait till May-June-July are over before you forecast anything.

April 5, 2015 9:47 am

I mourn all the heat lost from the ocean, gone forever. How naughty the child.

Reply to  kim
April 5, 2015 9:49 am

I almost wrote ‘how naughty the risen heat’, but sumpin’ thumped a lucky foot, so I pawsed.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  kim
April 5, 2015 1:24 pm

Funny!!!!! I get it!!!!!
On the serious side, with an extended weak El Nino with its calmer sea surface, the top warmest layer evaporates and promotes the formation of heavy clouds across the equatorial band, preventing a substantial part of solar insolation available at the sea surface. This means that heat is not being added, thus leaving us vulnerable to net heat loss from the oceans.

April 5, 2015 10:36 am

Thanks, Bob.
As always your March 2015 ENSO Update is the widest, deepest probe into the conditions of the oceans. Next week we’ll probably get the NOAA take on the MEI and their ENSO forecast.

April 5, 2015 11:43 am

Bob – I see too many confusing graphs for my taste. Also, don’t be cheap and stick us with yearly spaces. Make it at least monthly or weekly if possible. And get rid of linear fit. These graphs are not random dots but contain data that is lost when a linear fit is forced upon them. I see no point in drawing a straight line connecting high points either. To determine the line best fitting the actual data place a dot at the point connecting each El Nino peak with its nearest La Nina valley. If the graph is too jagged extend it and/or use a red magic marker to outline the temperature path. These points define the location of the global mean temperature. Connect them smoothly and that is a picture of what global mean temperature is doing. As to the possible triple El Nino appearance, to me it looks like repeat of what happened at the beginning of this century. The century began with a step warming in 1999 which raised global mean temperature by a third of a degree Celsius in only three years. This initiated the current hiatus. Its effect was to raise all twenty+first century temperatures above those of the twentieth century, with the exception of thye super5 El Nino pf 1998. Hansen quickly noticed this and pointed out that nine out of ten highest temperatures in the world occurred during the first decade of this century. His claim that carbon dioxide did it is false because he has no idea of how the physics controlling the greenhouse effect works. Beyond the end of the step warming the platform continues until thec 2008 La Nina swhows up.This is the first indication that ENSO is still alive after seven years of no regular El Nino or La Nina activity. It is followed by the El Nino of 2010 in short order. I expected that sequence to continue but it did not and simply deteriorated into something similar to what what happened before that La Nina appeared. You can only hypothesize what may have done it. One way to suppress a regular El Nino is by creating an El Nino Modoki in mid-ocean. I have heard nothing of it. Another is by shift of westerlies that carry the El Nino warmth around the world. Lack of El Ninos at the beginning of the century and again now could happen if the dividing line between the trades and the westerlies moves north, parallel to to the coast. Normally that dividing line is somewhere neat Baja and it should not take much of a push to move it north and cause the trades to swallow up the warm air that normally joins the westerlies. This of course is just a hypothesis that fits the data and we just have to wait and see how it turns out.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 5, 2015 12:48 pm

Nope, paragraph it and throw out the paragraphs which don’t make sense. See, that was easy.

April 5, 2015 12:02 pm

by mid -July, we’ll be discussing the building La Nina setup. Then another El Nino in fall 2016 into 2017. After that …. ask Sol.

April 5, 2015 12:25 pm

you can talk about El Nino all you want, but we’re not seeing one here in SoCal.
it didn’t rain much when it rained, and they stopped early as well, even if it does sprinkle this week, as they are predicting. it was also fairly warm, and that’s not a El Nino trait here.
this winter was similar to the last two, not exactly the same, but close enough for government w*rk, so my fearless prediction is that this summer will be like the past two, at least in my part of paradise, and that summer temps in The Valley will be like totally milder than usual, fer sure.
fussy definitions to the contrary, until we get a cold, wet winter here, there’s effectively no El Nino going on.

Reply to  redc1c4
April 5, 2015 3:01 pm

Agreed redc1c4. Here on the east coast of Australia the reverse of course with no El Nino evident and good rainfall patterns.

Retired Engineer Jim
Reply to  redc1c4
April 5, 2015 3:11 pm

Have to agree – I guess a “weak” El Nino resulted in the “weak” winter rains we got here in SoCal.

Reply to  Retired Engineer Jim
April 5, 2015 3:27 pm

The atmosphere is setting up to start delivering some rain relief in April-May. First installment is this Tuesday.

Reply to  Retired Engineer Jim
April 5, 2015 6:56 pm

“The atmosphere is setting up to start delivering some rain relief in April-May. First installment is this Tuesday.”
*if* that happens, it would be wildly out of character for normal weather patterns here…
rain in April at all strikes me as unusual, since i would expect that sort of thing to be over by March, at the latest.
not saying it never happens, just that it’s exceedingly rare in my memory (which is NOT to be confused with data)

Reply to  Retired Engineer Jim
April 8, 2015 3:12 am

REJ – So far this precipitation season of 7/1 to present, how much rain has fallen and what is the relation to normal levels?
I have seen big spring showers in SoCal to be a harbinger of an uptick in the following precipitation season totals. NorCal precipitation amounts usually follow SoCal’s by one precipitation year.

Joe Bastardi
Reply to  redc1c4
April 5, 2015 7:13 pm

You can not broad brush the enso. For Cal this is VERY CLOSE to the double enso event of 76-77, 77-78 as the first winter was VERY DRY.. Please look at the Saturday Summary on You can not even tell the difference. But from April 1977 through March 1978 it was wet and that is where this is going and its starting now!

Don B
Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 7:57 pm

Joe, your 4/4 saturday summary won’t play for me….

Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 6, 2015 9:45 pm

@ Joe Bastardi…i made this remark back in early September of last year…”…A possible bright note is that I see a good possibility for strong spring rains next year. The year after that should bring a normal rain, and the year after that will be a likely candidate for a flood event in Northern California.” That is on cnbc here..
I also have another comment from around the same time where I forecast that the winter rains would be stronger in the latter half of the winter, which they were. I am gaining some ability in this regard, although all of my life I have always had a strong natural weather sense. I am in agreement with your forecast for a wet spring, and the potential for some summer rain here in No California. I planted my garden early in anticipation, although I am now sweating out the next 3 days where the forecast shows a dip for my area. The usual safe planting time is middle May for this mountain area.
The south of the state will likely have to wait till the winter for their share. Note my flood event forecast for the winter of 2016/17, although if not in that winter then the next winter 2017/18. That is for somewhere between mid California up through Washington St. The last major flood event was in 1996/97, an incredible rain from the SF/Bay Area up into southern Oregon. These flood events happen close to either side of the solar minimum.

David A
Reply to  redc1c4
April 8, 2015 3:32 am

2011 had record sierra snow, and was not an El Nino year.

April 5, 2015 1:01 pm

My best guesstimate says that this month will be the peak for this current ENSO warmth. Some how, I have managed to follow the ups and downs of the MEI for the last 14 months. If this does turn out to be the peak month, then I may be on to something. Otherwise, it will be back to herding cats.

Chris Hanley
April 5, 2015 1:23 pm

Perhaps Anthony could try giving his ENSO meter a tap, the needle seems to be stuck.

April 5, 2015 2:39 pm

Is a famine going to hit Africa in four years? Not an El Nino question I know but maybe someone who cares about El Nino cares about other cyclical weather patterns. Four years after Eastern North America had the cold winters of the 70’s, Eastern Africa had a drought. What do you think? I know that weather is never so simple as that but maybe people who have the expertise should be on the lookout. I can’t predict the weather but I can make one, sure fire, prediction: If there is a drought in Africa it will be blamed on global warming (or whatever we are calling it these days).

April 5, 2015 4:14 pm

The 2014 El Niño? More like the 2014 Blob. There was no El Niño in 2014, one of the reasons Cal is still in a drought.

Joe Bastardi
Reply to  trafamadore
April 5, 2015 7:26 pm

That is not true. It is a weak modoki
Direct from the JAMSTEC people from FEB
February 19, 2015
ENSO forecast: The SINTEX-F model prediction and present observations show that an “El Niño Modoki”condition prevails in the tropical Pacific. As per the model predictions the warmer than normal SST anomalies are expected to continue in the central Pacific through the boreal summer.
You cant deny an objective evaluation against previous events. The idea there has to be alot of rain is dependent on other factors all around and you will see this evolve wetter now
but it is very similar to the dry enso event for you of 76-77. this became wet from the spring of 77 through the following winter and you are going to see that evolve in very similar fashion now. The coldest enso winters in the east are almost always modoki versions and there was certainly linkage to that, more so the late 1950s late but almost directly on to 1976 in November and the east pac hurricane season was as close to 1976 as you can possibly get. May I suggest reading JEROME NEMIAS work on both of these multiyear events as they caused a great deal of consternation with forecasters then, and it would be well worth everyones while to go back and look at these past events because you are seeing similar events now
I have trying to get the meteo/climate community to read what this giant that came before our time had to say and it seems to fall on deaf ears

Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 8:05 pm

El Niño was identified and named based on its dramatic effects on Mexico and the Southern west coast USA. I have seen El Niños. This is no El Niño. It is a sort of a little warmer Pacific, caused by mysterious moving blobs of warmist intent.
The two big questions, the real big questions, are
1. will the temp keep going up in the mists (ha hah!) of a sort of warmer Pacific? and
2. if we get a ’98 style El Niño, a real El Niño, on top of this warm plateau, will the blade of the hockey stick grow bigger?

Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 8:31 pm

trafamadore says:
…will the blade of the hockey stick grow bigger?
The hockey stick has turned upside down.
Sorry about your eco-religion…

Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 8:45 pm

Hey db, that explains 2014 being a record year? Upside down?….not.
You really don’t really make sense, eco religion or consumerist religion. Get a grip. You use to at least try to make sense a few years back.
Say, you in one of the states where asking if you are smoking something doesn’t imply law breaking?

Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 9:20 pm

trafamadope says:
…that explains 2014 being a record year?
If you believe that 2014 was a “record year”, you are beyond help.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Joe Bastardi
April 5, 2015 10:52 pm

at trafamadore
El Niño was identified and named based on its dramatic effects on Mexico and the Southern west coast USA.
I’m supposed to learn something new everyday but I think I’ll pass on this.
Also, as Bob T. and Joe B. indicate, others besides NOAA make up definitions but there is no one to say one is better than the others.
Regarding names – I prefer “The Callao Painter.”

April 5, 2015 6:39 pm

The eastern pacific blob is irritating and interesting all at the same time.

April 5, 2015 8:30 pm

Thanks Bob. Very helpful!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Muizenburg
April 5, 2015 10:53 pm

Wonderful summation as usual. Much appreciated. I learned a lot.

Bill Illis
April 6, 2015 5:21 am

The ENSO pattern looks very similar this year, 2015, to the pattern of 2014 (which turned into a very minimal El Nino with very limited impact).
What is different this year is that there is less cooler water in the Eastern Pacific than last year. This extra cool water last year moderated/almost completely offset the warm water moving in and there was a minimal event despite the forecasts for a strong El Nino.
I think the extent of cool or warm water next to the equator in the eastern Pacific is the missing puzzle of how the ENSO develops or its strength. This is similar to the cold PDO argument but has a much better physical explanation for how it actually works. The non-equatorial water in the eastern Pacific can enhance an El Nino/La Nina or shut it down.
In 2015, there is still quite a bit of cooler water at depth in the eastern Pacific, mostly on the southern Hemisphere side but still on the northern side as well. This is going to moderate the currently developing El Nino as well.
There is Zero chance of a multi-year El Nino given the western Pacific is turning quite cold now and this cold water will cycle into the ENSO regions over the next 18 months or so.
The “monthly” GODAS upper 300 metres average temperature anomalies for Mar 2015 (which has a little higher resolution than the pentad version and one can see the extent of cool/warm water at depth a little more clearly).

Frederik Michiels
April 6, 2015 9:56 am

i stick with my gut feeling a weak spreaded “el miniño” till july – august

April 6, 2015 10:57 am

Bill, excellent information.

James at 48
April 6, 2015 12:01 pm

We here in the Formerly Golden State are certainly hoping for a miracle.

April 6, 2015 4:40 pm

Bob, Joe… What you weather wranglers did for the Northeast this year… Could you aim more of the same for D.C? Imagine how much safer we would all be if our National Capital was buried under 10 feet of snow.

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