Predictions for the Strongest El Nino in 100 years
Jul 30, 2015
It's almost a certainty that we're headed for the strongest El Nino of the past 100 years which would eclipse the very strong El Ninos of 1997-1998 (1st strongest), 1982-1983 (2nd strongest) and 1972-1973 (3rd strongest). The image below shows we're already entering the strong category and likely to peak in the very strong/record high levels by late Fall this year.
NOAA and European models suggest, with near certainty, this El Nino will be record breaking. It's important to note that the old adage "the higher you go the harder you fall" will play out here as El Nino collapses in 2016 with Weather Trends International expecting a strong La Nina winter next year (2016-2017) - a return to frigid conditions and sno'mageddon...a topic for another post.
El Nino is simply an Equatorial Pacific Ocean cycle of warmer than average water temperatures (El Nino) typically followed by cooler than normal water temperatures (La Nina). The Pacific nations surrounding the Pacific Ocean typically have the greatest impacts due to El Nino but in reality it alters the typical global circulation patterns and jet streams. The map below shows the very clear El Nino signature of very warm waters in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
I know...blah...blah...blah...just tell me what it means for the next 18 months! Good thing wt360's core business is year-ahead forecasting by week for temps, precip and snow for 6.4 million locations covering every 10 miles of Earth for over 100 Fortune 1,000 companies. So here goes...the map below shows the dramatic changes in our temperature forecast for the November 2015 - March 2016 time frame. frame.
We expect the worst of Winter weather to shift into Europe and Asia this year with the cold and snow. Here in the U.S. we expect overall national temperatures (Nov 2015 - Mar 2016) to trend the 2nd warmest of the past 14 years and warmest in 4 years. Strong to very strong El Ninos can bring record Winter warmth to much of the U.S., except the Southwest where frequent rain and cloud cover can keep daytime temps cooler.
Looking back at the past few winters week-by-week we see that 2013-2014 was by far the worst winter of the past 37 years. Nationally there were 13 weeks where the weekly national temperature was below 32F for 260 major cities across the U.S. While last winter (2014-2015) had some brutally cold weather for a few weeks in mid-February and early March, there were only 10 weeks with the nation trending below 32F and overall temperatures were warmer for the U.S. overall. This Winter we only expect 8 weeks nationally that will average below 32F for the nation as a whole and national temperatures 1.1F warmer than average making this the warmest Winter in 4 years.
When it comes to rain, it's a no-brainer that the rains will come as strong thunderstorms in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean are pushed along a sub-tropical jet stream bringing heavy rain to the Southwest U.S. and Florida. We know you'd love a zoomed in version of this map, but those are reserved for our small business and enterprise clients. Hopefully you get the idea here that rainfall is pretty copious in the Western U.S. where they need it. The dark purple areas show where rainfall will be over 30" (762mm) for the Nov 2015 - Mar 2016 period.
This chart shows the U.S. national total rainfall trends with the 2nd wettest Nov 2015 - Mar 2016 in 18 years (wettest in 6 years).
Obviously California will get rain and potentially a lot of rain. They better as the drought cycle resumes later in 2016 with 10 more years of predominantly drought conditions so let's hope this El Nino at least brings 12 months of relief before the pain returns in late 2016 and beyond. Weather Trends International is currently forecasting the 2nd wettest Winter in 10 years for California but very likely this goes even higher and more similar to 1997-1998 in light of the very strong El Nino potential.
We know snow lovers we've tortured you with all this detail but all you want to know is exactly how much snow will fall in your backyard or farm. We have a solution for that...1-800-ASK-GOD! :) While our paying small farmer subscribers pay $299.40 a year for our year-ahead weekly forecasts and Fortune 1,000 clients pay $25,000 to $200,000 a year for all the gory detail on our weekly/monthly temperature, rainfall and snowfall forecasts, we can only share high level trends here to keep them happy. The chart below shows that Strong and in this case Very Strong El Ninos are not your friend if you love snow in the Eastern 2/3rds of the country. We will caveat that...while the frequency of snow events and overall snow totals in the Northern Plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley and East Coast and even Southern New England will trend below average, but the threat for one big Nor'easter snow storm is possible, like in 1983. That will require a lot of luck for everything to come together perfectly as colder air intrusions will be much less frequent in the East. But overall we think most in the East will be disappointed (assuming you love snow up to your eyeballs) this year with much less snow. If you like snow, consider Lake Tahoe, CA and other Southwest resorts. The only concern with a very strong El Nino is that we get a ton of rain out West but it pushes the snow levels pretty high in light of just how warm the ocean temps are off the West Coast. For the U.S. overall we expect a continued decline in national snowfall with 15% below average national totals and 7% less than last year. The Northeast locations are likely to see 50% less snowfall than last year (below average but could jump to near average IF we get ONE big Nor'easter - most will be rain or ice).
One benefit of the strong El Nino is a continuation of the 9.7 year trend without a major (cat 3-5) hurricane impact in the U.S. El Ninos create strong upper-level wind shear which simply suppresses activity in the Atlantic basin. But even before this El Nino the Atlantic was in a 45 year minimum cycle which could change in 2016 - we'll talk about that more below with some of our predictions for the next 18 months.
The good news is God said he'd never completely flood the Earth again so you probably won't need an Ark! ;) But let's see what else we might win or lose with the pending mega El Nino...
20 WT360 PREDICTIONS FOR THE YEAR-AHEAD:
1. El Nino will reach record strong levels by November 2015 and remain in the strong category throughout the entire Winter season.
2. Winter (Nov 2015 - Mar 2016) will be the warmest in 4 years (2nd warmest in 14 years) with above to much above average national temperatures.
3. National rainfall (Nov 2015 - Mar 2016) will be the 2nd wettest in 18 years (wettest in 6 years)
4. California will get major drought relief with the 2nd wettest season in 10 years (wettest in 5 years).
5. Mudslides and houses falling off the cliffs in California will likely be shown on national TV - yes The Weather Channel will bring you UNBEARABLE non-stop coverage...at least it will be better than their movies. ha ;)
6. National snowfall will be the least in 4 years trending 15% below average and 7% less than last year.
7. The Midwest and Northeast will have 50% less snow than last year with the frequency of snow events down 65% to 70% but very possible all the snow comes in one major Nor'easter - MAYBE!
8. A major ICE STORM is likely in the Northeast and New England into Southeast Canada.
9. Your energy bill this Winter will be 25% to 50% less than last year and the least in 4 years in the Eastern half of the U.S.
10. Natural Gas prices will remain flat, if not fall, once again to near record low levels.
11. Cold beverage sales up 5% this Winter, down -6% for hot beverages vs last year.
12. Coat sales down 15% this Winter, but Restaurant sales up 7% with much higher store traffic with the fewest winter traffic disruptions in 4 years.
13. Europe and the U.K. will get pummeled in snow and cold!!!!!
14. A severe tornado outbreak possible in Florida this Winter.
15. The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active with very likely the first Major (cat 3) land-falling hurricane in over 10 years. The hurricane drought will finally end (Florida biggest threat).
16. A moderate to severe drought will encompass a large area from Montana to Indiana into the Middle Atlantic states by Summer 2016.
17. Corn prices will soar to $6.50 in Summer 2016. We've nailed the corn price a year-ahead the past 4 years so go long on Corn!!!
18. Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 U.S. GDP will get a 2% bounce due to the warmer weather, despite billions in damage to homes and infrastructure out West.
19. Winter 2016-2017 will be epic across much of the Northern Hemisphere with cold and snow as a major La Niña develops and the 30-year Pacific Decadal Oscillation Cycle (PDO) plummets back into the cold phases.
20. And as Forrest Gump said..."that's all I have to say about that".
So, strap in as the next year looks to be very exciting when it comes to the weather! Warp Speed Ahead. - Captain Kirk out