End of La Nina?

Yup, that's what I said.  I can hardly believe it myself.  La Nina conditions have be waxing and waning for the past two years, and it finally looks like it has come to an end.  I have been hesitant to say it is done completely, because La Nina episodes are very reluctant to cease.  Even when they do end, they usually leave a "footprint" in the atmosphere that continues the prevailing weather pattern that existed during the La Nina.  We saw that last year...   Anyhow, below is a current look at Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in the Pacific Ocean:

Current Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Plot

Remember, anomalously warm means El Nino and anomalously cold means La Nina.  Right now, most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean is near normal temperature-wise.  The Eastern Pacific Ocean near South America is showing anomalous warming.  Does this mean a transition to El Nino conditions?  Not right away.  It takes more than just a little warming of the ocean in a localized area to create full-blown El Nino conditions.  You have to see changes in the ocean as well as the atmosphere, and that hasn't occurred yet.  I do anticipate a transition to El Nino conditions, but probably late this year.  Computer models seem to agree.  Check out the graphic below:

The EURO Model takes us into El Nino conditions by late Summer and early Fall.  I take this with a grain of salt, because last year it did the same thing.  Well as you well know, we went back into La Nina conditions last Fall and it prevailed through the Winter.  I do have a little more reason to believe it now, because we have seen a COMPLETE erosion of La Nina conditions relative to Sea Surface Temperatures.  That is a good sign...

If we do transition to an El Nino pattern later this Summer, I would expect a pretty wet late Summer and Fall.  The last time we encoutered El Nino, we had a very active Monsoon season, a wet Fall, and an active Winter.  I am speaking of late 2006 and early 2007.  That was a weak El Nino that didn't have the proper ocean and atmospheric coupling.  The next El Nino should be able to do better, as that is usually the case after a period of La Nina conditions.  Bottomline, we may have some decent moisture for this Summer...  Keep you fingers crossed.

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe

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