NIÑO ON TRACK TO INFLUENCE U.S. WINTER;
October 10 , 2002 — El Niño, already responsible for the drier-than-normal conditions in Indonesia, India, Mexico and Central America, is expected to continue influencing U.S. weather patterns into early 2003, forecasters at the NOAA National Weather Service said today. The Pacific Northwest will feel El Niño’s influence during the 2002-03 winter in the form of drier and warmer-than-normal conditions, but climate and weather experts from NOAA say the region still could face damaging storms. (Click NOAA satellite image for larger view of sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific taken Oct. 7, 2002.)
The agency's Climate Prediction Center issued its monthly El Niño update, highlighting the expected weather impacts in the United States and throughout the world.
Wayne Higgins of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., met with Seattle’s emergency managers and other local officials at a climate workshop on Thursday and said El Niño’s impact in the region will be weaker than the 1997-98 version.
“The current El Niño, while still holding the potential to bring strong storms, will continue the trend of below-average precipitation in the region,” said Higgins, NOAA’s principal scientist and an expert in long-range forecasting. Higgins added El Niño is at moderate strength.
Christopher Hill, meteorologist in charge of the NOAA National Weather Service Seattle forecast office, said, "The impact of a moderate El Niño on winter precipitation in the Pacific Northwest is not straightforward. There is a slight tendency for precipitation to average a little below normal, but that does not mean we won’t see significant storms with heavy precipitation and flooding.”
While the 2002-03 El Niño is weaker than the powerful 1997-98 version, forecasters said "strong impacts" are still likely in a few areas.
Overall, from December 2002 - April 2003, forecasters expect the U.S. to experience:
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is responsible for issuing seasonal climate outlooks for one to thirteen months in the future. The Climate Prediction Center is one of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which is a part of the NOAA National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories and operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.