Strong El Nino Blob effect may mean more winter precipitation

first_imgThe Chinook pattern is one characteristic of El Nino winters. National Weather Service climatologist Rick Thoman describes the warm Pacific Ocean waters of El Nino as raging across the equatorial region.Download Audio“This is one of the strongest El Ninos in the last 65 years, when we have good records,” Thoman says.Despite its strength, Thoman says El Nino impacts on North American have so far been minimal.“It turns out that the strongest links are actually later in the winters… say, after the new year.”Thoman adds that El Nino can affect the path of Alaska weather systems.“Storms track more through the Gulf of Alaska and into the northern Gulf Coast as some of the storms are likely to track, say, toward Bristol Bay with the potential to kind of leave Southeast out of that. (There are also) increased chances for more southerly flow aloft, which of course over most of the state would bring milder than average conditions.”That also means drier weather for areas in the lee of the Alaska Range, like the Interior, but Thoman cautions that there’s another factor in the mix: abnormally warm sea temperatures in eastern Pacific, a phenomenon known as “The Blob” that can affect storms.“That warm water does add more moisture to the atmosphere. And even in the Interior, if we do get a storm that comes out of the southwest, it could potentially hold more moisture than it otherwise would because of these warmer than average sea surface temperatures.”Looking further out, Thoman says odds point to a transition to La Nina conditions next fall and winter, a state that yields colder than normal weather.last_img