Forecasters are predicting one of the strongest El Niño events on record in the coming months. Dubbed “El Niño Bruce Lee” by NOAA’s ENSO Blog, and “Godzilla El Niño” by NASA climatologist Bill Patzert, per the L.A. Times, the weather feature has the potential to become the “strongest on record.”
The findings have to do with predicted three-month-average sea surface temperatures in a crucial region of the Pacific ocean near the equator. Beginning in July, those temps have been “steadily near or exceeding 2.0°C (3.6°F) above normal.” If the trend continues, as it is now, through August and September, warm ocean waters will surge toward the North and South American continents.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center stated that “all computer models” are now predicting a “strong El Niño to peak in the late fall or early winter” and that “collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic features reflect a significant and strengthening El Niño.” The NOAA concluded the following.
“The atmospheric response provides not just evidence that El Niño is strengthening, but confidence that it will continue to develop because the weakened near-surface easterly winds allow the surface waters to warm.”
These Bruce Lee and Godzilla-like weather phenomena could lead to “once-in-a-generation storms” for drought-parched California this winter.
“This definitely has the potential of being the Godzilla El Niño,” claimed climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Everything now is going to the right way for El Niño. If this lives up to its potential, this thing can bring a lot of floods, mudslides and mayhem.”
Patzert pointed out that the El Niño signal in the ocean “right now is stronger than it was in 1997.” It was the summer of 1997 that was made infamous for the strongest El Niño on record.
With that said, if the 1997 event had been named either Bruce Lee or Godzilla, the 2015 forecast models may have led meteorologists and climatologists to nickname the El Niño for 2015 either Chuck Norris or the Kraken.
Though the stronger the event, the more likely the U.S. will experience weather and climate impacts, experts warn the public that this is not a strict forecast of weather for the year. It is only a prediction model.
“In other words,” blogged NOAA contractor Emily Becker, “even a strong El Niño is not a sure-fire drought-buster for California…so it’s not time to stop conserving water, especially given how entrenched this drought is (i.e. it will likely take more than one good year to erase). However, a strong El Niño does increase the chance of more precipitation overall during the winter, and also brings the potential for extreme rainfall. This may help alleviate the drought, but also can also lead to mudslides and flooding.”
It was Becker who dubbed the 2015-16 El Niño Bruce Lee, citing the long-standing tradition of naming of tropical storms and the Weather Channel’s recent naming of winter storms.
The historical data for El Niño is relatively short-lived, as records only date back 65 years.
“This could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, this is likely to be the “strongest El Niño in half a century.” With the weather feature already racking up monikers like Bruce Lee and Godzilla, the 2015 El Niño is not likely to soon be forgotten.
[Image courtesy of Wikimedia]