Ask NOAA

Ask NOAA

Question

Are weather patterns variable from one El Niño to the next and what can be expected this year in the United States?

Answer

Specific impacts from each El Niño are unique due to the effects of natural climate variability, as impacts associated with El Niño can be strengthened or weakened by this interaction.  

El Niño typically affects weather patterns in the United States during winter. These impacts will vary depending on the strength of the El Niño. Between the time El Niño is detected, generally in summer, and the time El Niño's impacts are felt in the winter, NOAA works to assess whether it will be weak, moderate or strong. Clues that can help forecasters determine El Niño's potential strength include the magnitude of the warming of ocean temperatures below the surface, as well as various model forecasts. NOAA then informs states and local communities of potential impacts to help leaders make decisions that protect lives, property and local economies.

Typical El Niño impacts in the United States during the winter include:

NOAA will have a better idea of the expected impacts over the United States as we get closer to winter and get a better idea of an El Niño’s strength.

This month’s expert:  Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

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