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NOAA satellite image of El Niño conditions as of Oct. 29, 2002.October 31, 2002 — El Niño will have a visible influence on U.S. weather patterns into early 2003, including the nation’s Midwest region, the head of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center said today at a climate workshop in Kansas City, Mo. (Click NOAA satellite image for larger view of El Niño conditions as of Oct. 29, 2002. Click here for latest conditions. Please credit “NOAA.”)

States in the High Plains and central U. S. region are expected to experience a warmer-than-normal winter, and in some areas, conditions will be drier than normal, but Jim Laver, director of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, said the region should still anticipate typical winter cold spells and damaging storms.

“There will still be plenty of winter throughout the central U.S.,” Laver told a group of Kansas City-area emergency managers, private weather forecasters, television meteorologists and local officials at a climate workshop. He said the 2002-03 El Niño is at moderate strength and weaker than the powerful 1997-98 version, but impacts are still likely.

Dennis McCarthy, director of the 14-state Central Region of the NOAA National Weather Service, said, “The impact of a moderate El Niño on our winter precipitation is not straightforward. Although there is a tendency for precipitation to average below normal in parts of the region, that doesn’t mean we won’t see significant storms with heavy rain and snowfall that cause major problems.”

Overall, from December 2002, to April 2003, forecasters expect the United States to experience:

  • Drier-than-average conditions in some sections of the United States, including the Ohio River Valley and the northern Rockies.
  • Warmer-than-average conditions in the northern tier of states.
  • Wetter-than-average conditions in the southern tier of states.
  • Increased storminess along the East Coast.

The workshop was held at the NOAA National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas City.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is responsible for issuing seasonal climate outlooks for one to 13 months into 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.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

Weekly El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Update

Most Recent 2 Months Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Animation

El Niño and La Niña-related Winter Features over North America

NOAA's El Niño Theme Page

NOAA's El Niño Home Page



ENSO Fact Sheet

ENSO Frequently Asked Questions

ENSO Tutorial

ENSO Recent Events

Sea Surface Temperature Outlook

ENSO Impacts by Region

NOAA's Storm Watch — Get the latest severe weather information across the USA

NOAA's Drought Information Center

Media Contact:
Patrick Slattery, NOAA National Weather Service central region, (816) 891-8914