When researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote off the possibility of an El Niño event in the near future, many So Cal locals and farmers in the Mid-Western United States expressed their concerns about the lack of warm waters, rainfall and winds that would likely aid in ending the long drought that has crippled crops for years. So one might think that this week when the NOAA finally announced the arrival of what appears to be El Niño weather, on Mar. 5, that those concerned would be happy with the news. But it appears that isn't exactly the case.
It appears that while officials with the NOAA are declaring the event an El Niño class, this year's events won't exactly be a repeat of the 1998 El Niño that many had hoped for.
"We're basically declaring El Niño" NOAA forecaster, Michelle L'Heueux says. "It's unfortunate we can't declare a weak El Niño."
El Niño events are typically marked by unusually warm waters near the western coast of the United States, that are attributed to subsurface plumes of waters coming from the Western tropical Pacific, better known as a "Kelvin Waves". But ocean temperatures aren't the only markers that define El Niño. Researchers and forecasters also look to shifts in the global atmospheric patterns, where weakening trade winds lead to warming temperatures across the Earth.
Currently as it is, the current El Niño event is far too weak and comes at quite an unusual time to bring much of any relief to the drought-stricken Mid-West of the United States. But forecasters are hopeful that even the weak El Niño event could influence weather patterns around the globe. If the the events persist or intensify they could even boost global temperatures, even in light of 2014 being the hottest year on record.
"If the El Niño intensifies, it may have a greater impact on the global temperatures, as observed from past events" climate researcher with the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, Jessica Blunden says. "But for now, we are in wait and see mode."