Could we see a ‘monster’ El Nino later this year?

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It was another day of record-breaking moisture across North Idaho last Friday. A Pacific storm system brought more showers and even a few thunderstorms which added another .71 inches of rain to Coeur d’Alene’s big seasonal total. Friday’s rainfall broke the previous record for April 7 of .29 inches set back in 1920.

For the season, nearly 18.50 inches of rain and melted snow has fallen since Jan. 1. Our normal for the season is 26.77 inches. April is setting up to be another wet month as the average is only 1.77 inches with more storms on the way. Last Friday’s storm dropped over 40 percent of April’s normal in just one day.

Although weather patterns are starting to show a few signs of change, Cliff and I think that we’ll see more storms through the end of the month. However, there should be some breaks that will give us some days with some sun. In fact, during the normally drier and milder “last quarter” lunar phase of April 19-25, we should see a few dry days with temperatures warming into the 60s before more showers, thunderstorms and cooler temperatures arrive late in the month.

The unsettled weather pattern will continue with occasional rain and thunderstorms through at least early June before our summer pattern sets in with mostly dry conditions along with warm afternoon temperatures. Many are anxious to get on the golf courses.

In late February of this year, it was announced that we now are in a “La Nada,” the in-between cooler La Nina and warmer El Nino sea-surface temperature event in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean.

It’s almost hard to believe that just over a year ago, we were coming out of one of the strongest El Ninos in recorded history. Then, we had the shortest and weak La Ninas that developed in the late fall of 2016 and only lasted into early February of 2017. However, despite the weak event, the Northern Hemisphere experienced some of the coldest, and in some cases, snowiest winter seasons in recent memory.

Sea-surface temperatures have been consistently warming in the south-central Pacific Ocean since late last year. In late February of 2017, it was announced that we now are in a “La Nada,” the in-between cooler La Nina and warmer El Nino sea-surface temperature event.

A Peruvian scientist expert in satellite remote sensing, Jorge Manrique Prieto, says that a new monster El Nino is forming and will probably be more devastating weatherwise than the last one from 2014 through early 2016. This would mean bigger storms and more floods in areas that are more influenced by an El Nino pattern.

Prieto believes that thousands of square miles of “hot” water will hit the western coast of South America near Peru around August. We’re already seeing temperatures much warmer than normal, about 4-5 degrees, in this region, a key area to watch for the formation of El Ninos or La Ninas.

Prieto also states that water temperatures could climb to a very warm 88 degrees Fahrenheit. During the last big El Nino event, water temperatures in this region were about 81 degrees Fahrenheit. If readings were to climb that high, it would likely be a record and perhaps lead to higher global temperatures for 2017.

Assuming we see these huge masses of very warm to even hot water develop, evaporation would likely be four times normal that would lead to heavy precipitation in some areas, like Southern California and across the southern portions of the country by the late fall and winter season.

Many scientists believe that the sudden increase in water temperatures are the result of volcanic eruptions below the ocean’s surface. Prieto states that the masses of hot water are originating south of the equatorial line likely contain more than 5,000 mini submarine volcanoes. In May of 2015, the Axial Seamount, which is located 300 miles off the Oregon coastline, erupted giving geologists quite a show for an underwater volcanic eruption.

By looking at the latest information, the eastern Pacific Ocean is now being dominated by above normal sea-surface temperatures. There are some small areas of cooler waters in the Gulf of Alaska and the Sea of Japan.

According to the latest computer models and other climate scientists, many believe that ocean waters will have additional warming and we could have a new El Nino declared during the summer season. We’ll watch that area along the Equator, which is circled on the chart, to see if ocean temperatures will continue to climb in the coming weeks.

If El Nino comes back sooner than anticipated, conditions should turn drier and warmer than normal across our region this summer. And, the winter of 2017-18 would likely be milder than our last winter. We would also see much less snowfall across the region as most of the moisture would fall as rain. But, during strong El Nino events, there have been several Decembers with heavy snowfalls. Even with the big snows in December, season totals during those El Nino years were still below normal levels. Stay tuned.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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