WMO El Niño/La Niña Update
30 January 2014
Current Situation and Outlook
The tropical Pacific continues to be ENSO-neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña). Model forecasts and expert opinion suggest that neutral conditions are likely to continue into the second quarter of 2014. Current model outlooks further suggest an enhanced possibility of the development of a weak El Niño around the middle of 2014, with approximately equal chances for neutral or weak El Niño. However, models tend to have reduced skill when forecasting through the March-May period. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other agencies will continue to monitor the conditions over the Pacific and assess the most likely state of the climate through the first half of 2014.
Since the second quarter of 2012 El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators in the tropical Pacific (e.g., tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, sea level pressure, cloudiness and trade winds) have generally been at neutral levels, indicating that neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions have been present.
The latest outlooks from climate models and expert opinion suggest that oceanic conditions and atmospheric anomalies associated with El Niño or La Niña are most likely to remain neutral into the second quarter of 2014, with virtually all models maintaining average conditions. However, by around the middle of 2014, model forecasts generally indicate the chance of El Niño increasing to a similar level as that for ENSO-neutral. For the June to August period, nearly one-half of the models surveyed predict a weak El Niño situation to develop, while the other one-half predict a continuation of neutral conditions. It must be noted that model outlooks that span March-May period tend to have particularly lower skill than those made at other times of year. Hence some caution should be exercised when using long range outlooks made at this time for the middle of the year and beyond. Of the one or two models that predict the development of La Niña, such conditions are reached only briefly during the next couple of months.
Overall, while there is a very slight chance for La Niña development in the next one to two months, ENSO-neutral is considered the most likely scenario into to the April to June period, followed by roughly equal chances for neutral or weak El Niño during the third quarter of 2014.
It is important to note that El Niño and La Niña are not the only factors that drive global climate patterns. At the regional level, seasonal outlooks need to assess the relative impacts of both the El Niño/La Niña state and other locally relevant climate drivers. For example, the state of the Indian Ocean Dipole, or the Tropical Atlantic SST Dipole, may impact the climate in the adjacent land areas. Locally applicable information is available via regional/national seasonal climate outlooks, such as those produced by WMO Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).
The situation in the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean will continue to be carefully monitored. More detailed interpretations of regional climate fluctuations will be generated routinely by the climate forecasting community over the coming months and will be made available through the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. For web links of the National Meteorological Hydrological Services, please visit:
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