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EL NIÑO IN THIS WINTER'S FORECAST?

NOAA satellite image of sea surface temperature anomalies as of Aug. 7, 2006.August 10, 2006 Weak El Niño conditions may appear by year's end, but if it does, it will happen too late to have an impact on the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season. (Click NOAA satellite image for larger view of sea surface temperature anomalies as of Aug. 7, 2006. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, the U.S. government agency tasked with monitoring, assessing and predicting the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, cycle (El Niño and La Niña), current global atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns are consistent with ENSO-neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific. These patterns are expected to continue for the next one to three months. However, Vernon Kousky, NOAA's lead ENSO scientist for more than 20 years, says, "Based on recent trends there is a 50 percent chance that weak El Niño conditions will develop late this year and continue through early 2007."

If weak El Niño conditions develop, the U.S. should expect wetter-than-average conditions over portions of the Gulf Coast and southeastern states, and warmer-than-average conditions over the West, northern Great Plains and upper Midwest during January-March 2007.

"At the moment, it is too early to be certain as to whether or not El Niño will develop," Kousky added. The El Niño forecast is based on the Climate Forecast System, or CFS, model and recent trends in the ocean-atmosphere system.

NOAA will continue to monitor the conditions in the tropical Pacific and issue the nation's official forecasts in weekly and monthly updates. El Niño and La Niña are climate features that have a direct effect on weather patterns over the U.S. and the world.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA El Niño/ Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

NOAA El Niño Conditions, Outlook and Impact

NOAA Satellite Images of Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163