QCOSTARICA – This year’s El Niño phenomenon can become one of the four strongest since 1950, said a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The peak strength of this El Niño is expected sometime during October 2015 to January 2016. Its impacts are already evident in some regions and will be more apparent for at least the next 4-8 months.
The forecast models and expert opinions suggest that sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific are likely to rise 2 degrees Celsius above average. This situation could make this El Nino one of the four strongest since 1950, after the El Nino events recorded in the periods 1972/1973, 1982/1983 and 1997/1988, said Maxx Dilley, WMO director of climate prediction.
El Niño is the cause of drought in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province and Central Valley. Temperatures in August was 2 degrees Celsius above average in the Central Valley, and from 3 to 4 degrees Celsius in Guanacaste.
“The last big El Niño was 1997-1998. The planet has changed a lot in 15 years,” said David Carlson, Director of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Program. “We have had years of record Arctic sea ice minimum. We have lost a massive area of northern hemisphere snow cover, probably by more than 1 million square kilometers in the past 15 years. We are working on a different planet and we fully do not understand the new patterns emerging.
Carlson said the 2015 El Niño is unique because of the unprecedented combination of the Equatorial influence of El Niño, and the Arctic influence of low sea ice and snow cover in place at the same time.
The El Niño Update is available here
WMO brochure on El Niño/Southern Oscillation is available here