In late 2018, there were some predictions that there would be a significant El Niño event in 2019. There were strong hints of an El Niño event in both SST data and forecasts. In an April 6th 2018 essay, Bob Tisdale suggested “Looks like one may be forming right now.”
But if we look at the animation provided by NOAA’s Climate prediction center, it sure looks like it has been fading:
And if we look at the recent SST satellite data, there’s no strong signature of El Niño in the Eastern Pacific near the west coast of South America. There is some elevated water temperature, but it is mostly 1 degree C or less:
Finally, a look at the BoM sequence going back to the October 2018 in the top panel, when compared to the bottom panel for January 2019 suggests that the ENSO event is dying:
From the most recent ENSO forecast from NOAA’s climate prediction center, dated January 7th, 2019, we have this:
- ENSO-neutral conditions are present.*
- Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are above average across most of
the Pacific Ocean.
- The patterns of convection and winds are mostly near average over the tropical
- El Niño is expected to form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere
winter 2018-19 (~90% chance) and through spring (~60% chance).*
* Note: These statements are updated once a month (2nd Thursday of each month) in association with the ENSO Diagnostics Discussion, which can be found by clicking here.
But, in that same forecast presentation, they show this slide:
Four weeks of negative changes doesn’t install confidence for a growing ENSO event.
It will be interesting to see what evolves. However, the chances of 2019 becoming another “hottest year ever” aren’t off to a strong start.