Forecast: approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16

EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO) DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION issued by  CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS  and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society

10 September 2015

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Advisory

Synopsis: There is an approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, gradually weakening through spring 2016.

During August, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were near or greater than +2.0°C across the eastern half of the tropical Pacific (Fig. 1). SST anomalies increased in the Niño-3.4 and Niño 3-regions, were approximately unchanged in the Niño-4 region, and decreased in the Niño-1+2 region (Fig. 2). Large positive subsurface temperature anomalies persisted in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific during the month (Fig. 3), with the largest departures exceeding 6°C (Fig. 4). The atmosphere remained coupled to the anomalous oceanic warmth, with significant low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies persisting from the western to east-central tropical Pacific. Also, the traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) were again negative, consistent with enhanced convection over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and suppressed convection over Indonesia (Fig. 5). Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic anomalies reflect a strong El Niño.

All models surveyed predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2016, and all multi-model averages predict a peak in late fall/early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5°C or greater; Fig. 6). The forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño, with peak 3-month SST departures in the Nino 3.4 region near or exceeding +2.0°C. Overall, there is an approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, gradually weakening through spring 2016 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

Across the contiguous United States, temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are expected to remain minimal during the early Northern Hemisphere fall and increase into the late fall and winter (the 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday September 17th). El Niño will likely contribute to a below normal Atlantic hurricane season, and to above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and eastern Pacific hurricane basins (click Hurricane season outlook for more).


This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts are also updated monthly in the Forecast Forum of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. Additional perspectives and analysis are also available in an ENSO blog. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 8 October 2015. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to:


Climate Prediction Center

National Centers for Environmental Prediction

NOAA/National Weather Service

College Park, MD 20740


Figure 1. Average sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (°C) for the week centered on 2 September 2015. Anomalies are computed with respect to the 1981-2010 base period weekly means.


Figure 2. Time series of area-averaged sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (°C) in the Niño regions [Niño-1+2 (0°-10°S, 90°W-80°W), Niño 3 (5°N-5°S, 150°W-90°W), Niño-3.4 (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W), Niño-4 (5ºN-5ºS , 150ºW-160ºE]. SST anomalies are departures from the 1981-2010 base period weekly means.


Figure 3. Area-averaged upper-ocean heat content anomaly (°C) in the equatorial Pacific (5°N-5°S, 180º-100ºW). The heat content anomaly is computed as the departure from the 1981-2010 base period pentad means.


Figure 4. Depth-longitude section of equatorial Pacific upper-ocean (0-300m) temperature anomalies (°C)

centered on the pentad of 31 August 2015. The anomalies are averaged between 5°N-5°S. Anomalies are departures from the 1981-2010 base period pentad means.


Figure 5. Average outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies (W/m2) for the period 6 – 31 August 2015. OLR anomalies are computed as departures from the 1979-1995 base period pentad means.


Figure 6. Forecasts of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the Niño 3.4 region (5°N-5°S, 120°W-170°W). Figure updated 18 August 2015.


69 thoughts on “Forecast: approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16

  1. I find it interesting that the Jason Sea level residuals, a good proxy for SST’s, spend the year moving east towards the South American coast and now appear to have moved west from July 21. Latest date is 20 Aug, they are slow in updating, be fascinating to see if this trend continues.

  2. They haven’t a clue. They predicted it would happen in 12/13/14 (at least in Australia, BOM did). Then they predicted this one was going to be HUGE…now they’re predicting weather outcomes. Pathetic.

  3. What Charles said. They really, REALLY wanted it to be ‘the biggest one yet!’ – just like those who said ‘Solar Cycle is gonna be Robust**’. And yet now it isn’t even going to be as big as the 97 / 98 one
    ** – I’ve come to see use of the word ‘Robust’ as meaning they haven’t got the slightest clue but want people to be Scared of the weather anyway.

    • This list does not include ‘robust’ but is a fun read. I can’t remember the original source, credit goes to the internet I suppose.
      Scientific Jargon
      The following list of phrases and their definitions will help you to understand that mysterious language of science and medicine.
      “IT HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN”…I didn’t look up the original reference.
      “A DISTINCT TREND IS EVIDENT”…These data are practically meaningless.
      “WHILE IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO PROVIDE DEFINITE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS”…An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.
      “THREE OF THE SAMPLES WERE CHOSEN FOR DETAILED STUDY”… The results of the others did not make any sense.
      “TYPICAL RESULTS ARE SHOWN”…This is the prettiest graph.
      “THESE RESULTS WILL BE IN A SUBSEQUENT REPORT”… I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.
      “THE MOST RELIABLE RESULTS ARE OBTAINED BY JONES”…He was my graduate student; his grade depended on this.
      “IN MY EXPERIENCE”…Once.
      “IN CASE AFTER CASE”…Twice.
      “IN A SERIES OF CASES”…Thrice.
      “IT IS BELIEVED THAT”…I think.
      “IT IS GENERALLY BELIEVED THAT”…A couple of other guys think so too.
      “A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF OBTAINABLE DATA”…Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.
      “AFTER ADDITIONAL STUDY BY MY COLLEAGUES”…They don’t understand it either.
      “A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT AREA FOR EXPLORATORY STUDY”…A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

    • Think of all the money The Weather Channel’s been raking in since they’ve conditioned the populace to be Scared! of the weather. Pathetic . . . and the sheeple keep falling for it.

    • yep,and it is failing. the integrity test is will they admit that or spin it into something positive. if they want to know whether el nino conditions are gathering pace or declining,they would be better monitoring reruitment of certain fish species in key areas year on year.
      being a dumb ill educated ordinary punter i will leave it up to the clever people to work out which species 😉

  4. El Nino is causing moderate heat/dryness here in the east US, but I’ll cheer it if it moderates our recent fairly brutal winters. Feb 2015 was 4th coldest here since records began in 1898, and even the coldest in some nearby areas.

  5. “Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site”
    I guess they get paid more by calling it Climate, and not the Weather, which it is.

  6. Let me see now … a “diagnostic discussion” … issued by a “climate prediction center” !
    I think NOT.

  7. El nino is back and this should bring dry conditions throughout eastern Australia but there’s no sign of it yet. Rain week in, week out along the east coast for years now has not produced a comment from anyone.
    The Indian Ocean Dipole is favorable however and currently there are constant fronts and troughs crossing west to east bring rainstorms to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and an incredible snow season to the Australian alps.
    This has not stopped TV meteorologists mentioning some isolated place with below average rainfall pathetically clinging to their failed predictions from yesteryear.

    • its patchy rains though..crops nth of nhil/warraknabeal have been declared gone, n stock in to graze, other areas are soaked n things might be ok.
      still hoping for the usual soggy spring where I am.

    • I bring up this exact point with every El Nino update here.
      On the East Coast of NSW it has just not been an El Nino like year at all. The water in the Indian is still above average (creating those beautiful troughs that move across the country), and the water off the East coast is still warm (allowing those troughs to turn into East-coast lows when they get here, bringing more rain).
      It’s been cool, wet and all around lovely. I expect the hot, dry October (which we get every year) to once again bring about media proclamations of imminent doom, only for another mild summer to follow.

  8. Wait, is someone saying that El Ninos/La Ninas have an effect on the climate?
    Good thing they incorporated that effect in the Climate models that have predicted/projected continued warming.
    Oh, wait….

  9. Obviously this is what they want to happen and then I read ‘all models sampled forecast….’ There you have it – the fabled models and not just that, selected ones since there were others they didn’t sample. And what did they say? Answers on a postcard.

  10. There is a very strong El Nino right now and it takes time for an El Nino to build up and then to dissipate. It will continue for several more months at least.
    There is still a lot of very warm water in the Pacific equatorial undercurrent which has not surfaced yet and will continue to do so into the foreeable future maintaining the El Nino and, perhaps, even strengthening it more. Traditionally, 80% of ENSO events peak in the November to February period so the seasonality would say that it will continue for several more months. Unlike last year’s interrupted El Nino, there is little cold water in the eastern Pacific to cool it off.
    The best indicator of where the ENSO is going to go is how much warm water there is in this undercurrent and this leads the Nino 3.4 Index by 1 to 2 months very consistently. Back to 1982 here, and these measures are all over +2.0C right now which would place it in the top ten El Ninos ever recorded.

  11. Why wasn’t ’97’ used? I demand to know why ’97’ wasn’t used! Everyone knows that nobody will believe our faked-up percentage if we don’t use the number 97!

  12. Top picture: When Americans make these pretty weather graphs they must put lots of extra coding effort into stopping at the Canadian border.

    • they must put lots of extra coding effort
      nope. as the Seasonal Outlook shows, conditions in Canada will be normal from coast to coast. The abnormal conditions are limited to the US and Alaska only, because climate change is a result of Americans burning fossil fuels. The climate in Canada is so shztty to start with, it doesn’t matter what we burn. Any change would be an improvement.

      • This is a reply to emsnews, who complained about the shztty weather from Canada freezing upstate New York. I am a Canadian who lived in Washington, D.C. for four years. Evert winter, the Washington news media complained bitterly about the “cold wave coming down from Canada” to make people’s lives miserable. However, in the summertime, when it generally was sweltering hot, did I once hear a news report about the “nice refreshing cool breeze coming from Canada”? Noooooooo.

    • These are the “new adjusted” ones from the NCDC/NOAA.
      Previously, the NCDC hadn’t mucked around with the historical ENSO numbers very much because of its importance and its long history of actual ship measurements, Peru fishing statistics, the relationship with the long-measured Southern Oscillation Index etc. Because of this, the previous ENSO SST statistics had no real trend going back 150 years. One of the few places in the world which had no global warming trend in the record.
      But the new adjusted statistics have changed the history of the ENSO so it is a very big problem in my mind. There is still very little trend in terms of global warming but all the individual ENSO events through time appear to be out of phase and changed from the previous numbers.

    • Mark said:
      “”Are these temperatures “adjusted” as well like GISS ala Hansen? Or are they Raw?””
      Embarrassingly I am not being snarky, I know SST and GISS are different (sea/air) what I mean is are they using any of the heavily politically adjusted data or invented data or raw data? Was it in a seperate model based on sea surface temperatures and ENSO prediction, or are they cadging the climaprophets climate prediction models somehow? Just trying to keep up.

    • Yes, the patch of blue cold water right off of Ecuador is clearer here than on the NOAA maps which also shows it. Is this the ‘la Nina’ turnover happening already? And do note that Hudson Bay is cooling down rapidly.

      • Niño 4 has been generally cooling since it peaked in late April. Niño 1+2 the same since mid July. Niño 3 is still warming, But Niño 3.4 cooled last week and if it does again this week, I will start asking if the El Niño has peaked early. Typically the peak temp of Niño 3.4 occurs during November or December, but this El Niño has had different timing, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
        The water off of South America is cooling, pushing the warmth back towards the central Pacific. Also look at the waters around Australia and Indonesia, there is warming water there. These suggest that conditions are starting to reverse, but we must wait until the SOI climbs suddenly and then we can say it is over.

      • also note warm anomalies shown for sea of cortez not borne out by various colder water bait fish species present at the moment.

    • just to mention the blue area in the North Atlantic ocean almost borders the same area where the polar ocean gyre set up during the Younger Dryas. The Gulf stream flowed south and east of blue area towards southern Spain and north Africa.

  13. WASHINGTON — Federal forecasters upgraded this year’s El Nino to an unusual strong status, but said it’s probably not a record breaker or drought buster. Mike Halpert, deputy director of the federal Climate Prediction Center, said the current worldwide weather shifting event doesn’t match the monster El Nino of 1997-1998, nor is it likely to. With even warmer waters in the central Pacific in August, the hottest in more than 17 years, the prediction center moved the El Nino up from moderate status. So far the El Nino is the third strongest on record, behind 1997-98 and a weird one in 1987-88 that peaked early.

  14. Here is scientific jargon I well remember from my Physics professors: “It is is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer”, meaning “I don’t feel like writing out all the steps for solving this equation, so you knuckleheads will just have to take my word for it.”

  15. What are the ENSO indications from the anchovy fishery off Peru?
    It looks like the fishery, while moving southwards a little, remains in robust health – such that they are even considering bringing forward the next fishing season. Hardly consistent with a strong el Nino (when one expects a crash of the fishery).
    The predicted ENSO peak in Oct-Nov would be anomalous – peaks are usually either July or Jan.

  16. respects, MJB, you’re weathered.
    “THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED”… Where is the emergency exit

  17. what about “The Blob” in the northeast Pacific?
    if it’s still there, it’s likely not going to rain very much in #Failifornia…

    • redc1c4

      what about “The Blob” in the northeast Pacific?
      if it’s still there, it’s likely not going to rain very much in #Failifornia…

      I am more interested in wondering if the “blob” (A noted warmer spot of warmer surface ocean water across the north Pacific in Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr 2015 lead to the unusually low but very broad Arctic sea ice peak in those same months of the year. The low Arctic sea ice was caused by a notable LACK of sea ice in the Sea of Othotsk north of Japan’s Kurile Islands. The rest of the Arctic sea ice this psring was very close to normal for the last 8 years.

  18. I’ve been reviewing video of the Mecca crane collapse. I’m thinking it might have been either a microburst or a rain wrapped tornado. Although the straight line winds looked pretty bad. I’ve been trying to determine the source of the storm. Looking at climate info Mecca normally does not get much if any of a Monsoon, too far West, protected by a land mass from Easterly flows. May have been a cut off low, which seem to happen more during El Nino.

  19. Anthony! How DARE you make a prediction that can be proven or disproven within a couple of years? And you call yourself a climate scientist. Remember…no short term predictions and keep it vague.

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