According to new data, the current El Niño is now considered one of the strongest on record, even reaching the classification of a rare “super El Niño”. The strength of El Niño is determined by key indicators, one being ocean surface temperatures. From November to January, the tropical Pacific Ocean where El Niño originates was 2 degrees Celsius warmer than normal, a threshold that has only been breached six times on record. However, this so-called super El Niño’s strength is expected to decline soon, with the Climate Prediction Center forecasting a switch to La Niña in the coming months. The impact of El Niño on weather patterns around the globe, particularly in the US, will continue to be felt as the transition to La Niña is anticipated.
With La Niña potentially on the horizon, there is a 55% chance of it developing from June to August and a 77% chance from September to November, according to the forecast by the Climate Prediction Center. Historically, strong El Niños are followed by La Niña conditions about 60% of the time. The abrupt pattern flip from El Niño to La Niña could have significant implications for how the rest of the year’s weather plays out, particularly in the Atlantic hurricane season. A quicker switch to La Niña could mean more of an impact on the upcoming hurricane season, especially if oceans remain exceptionally warm. With the potential influence of human-caused climate change, it’s increasingly critical to understand and monitor these large-scale climate patterns to better prepare for extreme weather events.