Although its impacts on the weather still reverberate, El Niño has now officially gone bye bye

By Tom Yulsman | June 9, 2016 10:49 am

Forecasters lean toward the emergence of a weak to ‘borderline moderate’ La Niña in the fall

El Niño

In January, above average sea surface temperatures projected like a spear along the equator in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean — a hallmark of El Niño. Since then, the warmth has given way to cooler than normal temperatures. (Images: Animation: Tom Yulsman)

If you live in Texas — or Indonesia, for that matter — it might be difficult to believe, but El Niño truly has gone away.

Record-setting rainfall has recently caused devastating floods in Texas. Meanwhile, drought continues in parts of Southeast Asia. And both have been linked to lingering impacts of El Niño on atmospheric circulation patterns.

But as the animation above illustrates, January’s warm spear of sea surface waters in the equatorial Pacific — a hallmark of El Niño — has now given way to cooler than average temperatures.

This heralds the official end of El Niño, according to the latest monthly update from the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service.

SEE ALSO: As El Niño fades, here comes La Niña

Here’s another animation showing the transition, this time over the course of the month of May:

El Niño

Evolution of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific. (Source: Climate Prediction Center)

And here’s the official word on what’s happening from the Climate Prediction Center’s update today:

Overall, ENSO-neutral conditions are present and La Niña is favored to develop during the Northern Hemisphere summer 2016, with about a 75% chance of La Niña during the fall and winter 2016-17 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

In the United States, La Niña is typically associated with warm and dry conditions across the southern tier of states. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia tends to experience wetter than average conditions.

But the now-gone El Niño did not live up to typical expectations in some regions, including Southern California. So we’ll just have to wait and see how things develop.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate, ENSO, select, Top Posts, Weather
  • OWilson

    “But the now-gone El Niño did not live up to typical expectations”

    Could it be that Mother Nature doesn’t care a whit about the puffed up and arrogant “expectations” of the true believers?

    After all, they should be used to it by now :)

    • Mike Richardson

      “Mother Nature has no political agenda :)”
      Well, that makes one of you, at least. :)

      • OWilson

        She doesn’t have “a fever” either :)

        If you think she does, you should be kept away from children.

        • CB

          “She doesn’t have “a fever” either”


          The Earth isn’t a person.

          You know that, right?

          “2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.”

          • OWilson

            “Modern” record keeping began in 1880?

            We had grapes growing in the North of England in 380, and a hundred years ago Amundsen sailed thru the Northwest Passage in a wooden boat.

            Anyway it was your Al Gore says the planet has “a fever”, and guess what?

            He has the “cure” :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Always a political response to a scientific question. Or the anecdotal response to empirical data. You’re not really providing a very rational counterpoint here, you know. :)

        • Mike Richardson

          That’s your professional, “certified,” opinion, then? No warming at all? You can deny the impact it will have on human society, but you cannot deny that it’s happening. Well, you can, but don’t expect to be taken seriously by anyone capable of reading above a second grade level. :)

          • OWilson

            According to your NOAA, the Global temperature anomaly for May was 0.55 degrees above the average for the satellite record.

            Global temperature slightly lower than it was in 1998, some 18 years ago.

            At this rate (over the last 40 years) the temperature would rise 0.51 by 2050, and by 1.25 by 2100.

            Slight warming projected.

            Greening of the deserts and another area as large as the United States becomes fertile and much greener. The spread of Rain Forests and all the flora and fauna that are so important to our well being.

            Vast areas of Northern Asia and Canada growing more than one crop of wheat a year.

            The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, and the usual bunch of America haters in your country and around the world. who burn the U.S, Flag, and occasionally burn down the neighborhood, and loot their neighborhood stores.

            And the others, (who’s name can never be mentioned by your President) who take pleasure in killing as many innocents as they can.

          • Mike Richardson

            Global average, with more warming predicted in the polar regions, with accelerated glacier melt, particularly in Greenland. Northern Asia and Canada might get warmer, but you can’t alter the tilt of the earth to give them more hours of sunlight, and you won’t be able to grow crops well in areas that have little topsoil or poor soil quality. Deserts don’t generally get greener with increased temperatures, but that’s a nice dream if you’re fantasizing. And Wilson, you seem to be the one most interested in appealing to fear and unreason here, sadly. :(

          • OWilson

            The areas I was talking about already support one crop, but the weather is a factor. You conveniently missed that :)

            And, Google “Co2 Greening worldwide”. Don’t be a denier :)

            This is GOOD news, ya hear?



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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