Oceanic Equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies have been positive and in a weak El Niño regime since exiting the double dip La Niña this past spring. Three-month running mean temperatures have been positive since this past summer. Most climate models have been predicting El Niño conditions, perhaps even warming to a moderate El Niño, through the peak of the winter recharge season.
However, last month, temperature anomalies started to cool. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued an update yesterday showing that the cooling trend that started last month continued with the latest Nino 3.4 weekly SSTA a neutral +0.1C.
CPC is calling for a 55% probability that El Niño conditions will prevail into the winter. However, this probability has been significantly lowered from last month when it was 69%.
The latest CPC/IRI consensus probabilistic ENSO forecast (below) shows that the chances of either neutral or El Niño conditions are basically 50/50 during the peak of the winter months. It is important to note that models strongly show that probabilities of neutral conditions significantly exceed El Niño by the peak of the critical late winter/early spring recharge season.
While the CPC still feels that there could be some warming over the next few months, and this is indeed possible, I suspect that the factors that have shifted the El Niño into neutral are firmly established and any additional warming (if any at all) will be modest.
In consideration of water resources recharge from late winter and early spring, I expect that the ENSO pattern is highly likely to be neutral.