Thursday night on the 10 p.m. newscast, we talked a little bit more about what is forecast to become one of the strongest El Nino episodes on record. Some are calling it a Godzilla. Lots of jokes to be made and even some asking if the change in water temperatures can have that much impact on the weather patterns across the United States.
El Nino is not something that comes and goes away in a month or two. It takes several months for it to develop and will take just that long or longer for it to dissipate. So it will be around for the upcoming winter and into early Spring 2016. This is just one variable in making a seasonal forecast. There will be other factors for us to consider when trying to figure out what lies ahead for the winter season.
El Nino influence favors a stormy and wet southern branch of the jet stream (referred to as the subtropical jet) while the Polar jet stream (shown in blue) favors dry weather around the Great Lakes with warmer than normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest.
This current El Nino is being compared to the one in 1997-98 and in that winter, we had some very heavy snows. That doesn't mean we will get a ton of snow this winter, but does give some indication of what could happen with this warm water influence on the fall and winter pattern.