El Niño Winter Preview

 El Niño Winter Preview


The  strongest El Niño in  20 years  is  already  having an effect on the weather.  Hurricane Patricia is one example.

This storm grew to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours, fueled by  unusually warm Pacific waters. Peak wind speeds were off the scale--over 200 mph!  After breaking up over the Mexican mountains, the remnants of the storm caused  torrential rain  and flooding in Texas and the Gulf Coast.  The rain  in Chicago  and New York and power outages along the East coast  are part of  the remnants of the hurricane.

What will El Niño bring this winter? According to NOAA, this  could mean  more rain for the Western  United States,  which would offer some relief from the  ongoing drought and wildfires in California.

Eastern United States-- It probably won’t be as cold as last year in the Northeast, but  fierce Nor’easters could be commonplace, bringing  heavy snowstorms.

Chicago area --Tom Skilling was asked about the effects of El  Niño for  Chicago and the midwest---

Dear Tom,

Is this going to be an El Niño winter? Historically, how does that impact Chicago and the Midwest?

— Art Azen

Dear Art

Yes, this will probably be an El Niño winter, and possibly a strong one. El Niño refers to a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean westward from South America. This has widespread weather consequences, not just in the U.S. but in many places around the world.

For the U.S., El Niño usually brings above-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures to the southern states from California across Arizona, New Mexico and the Gulf states. In the north, especially the Midwest, winters tend to be mild, with subnormal precipitation. In nine El Niño winters in Chicago starting with 1950, six have been relatively mild and dry. The other three were slightly cooler than normal.

After two winters of subzero polar vortex and  record snow, this is good news for  Chicagoans.  The snow boots may last one more season.  People will still need snow shovels, snow blowers and snow tires, antifreeze, and weather stripping on windows, but maybe  the   heating bills will be lower.

You can read more about what  El Niño is and what it means for  Chicago here.

While Chicagoans may get a relief from extreme weather, Europe and the UK may be in for a colder and snowier winter.

According to Think Progress, the existing drought conditions in Southern Africa, Ethiopia and Central America  could worsen with below-average rainfall.

For Australia, the  Indian Ocean has moderated the effects of  El Niño,  so far. But heat waves, drought and wildfires could be in the forecast for the summer there.

The  effects of  El Niño  will be felt worldwide  over the coming months. This is just a preview of things to come.




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Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: El Niño


Leave a comment
  • I'm still looking forward to the forsythia in December.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack. I will be watching the magnolia...

  • We've had rather extreme winters the past two years so I guess I will take a milder one. Keep us posted.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you, Kathy! I still need a new snow shovel...

  • The snow will be light and the temperature mild
    This winter because of a vagabond child?
    What power in someone not even a teen, yo,
    The nomad Tom Skilling and you call El Nino.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Good one, AW! Thank you.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    "Good one" to AW -- and also to you, WG! Thanks for the clear explanation I've been searching for.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Thanks for reading. Much appreciated.

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