Weather News

May 1, 2014 11:02 AM by Stephen Bowers

NOAA: Increasing signs of approaching El Niño

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report released last week that signs are mounting of a pending El Niño.

NOAA says no other climate phenomenon has such a large affect globally on climate. The El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, also includes La Niña, and dictates whether any given year will be unusually hot, cold, wet, or dry. 

In March, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño Watch, indicating favorable atmospheric and oceanic conditions for the development of El Niño within six months. On April 18th, climate forecasters noticed an expanding pool of warm water sloshing eastward across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, adding to the signs pointing to a significant El Niño setting up. The image below shows that warm pool in the Pacific as seen on April 18.

Since El Niño affects more of the globe than any other climate event, it stands to reason Colorado will feel some affects. What exactly are those affects? The image below give us some idea. Since abundant mositure is transported by a strong jet stream from the Pacific Ocean across the United States, the Southwest often experiences an increase in rain. That rain can also be abundant in the Southeast. In Colorado, we find ourselves right on the edge of the wetter-than-normal zone. For us, an El Niño can mean more rain. The increase in moisture can also help to tame the Colorado heat. With the abundance of rain along the central and southern California coast, landslides often occur. An increase in moisture in Colorado could mean an increased potential for flash flooding, especially near (but not limited to) wildfire burn areas.

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