We’re still waiting

El Nino watch remains

It is beginning to seem like the El Nino that never was, or never will be.

For several months the Climate Prediction Center has been closely monitoring conditions favoring the developing of an El Nino. A big factor in El Nino, which generally results in warmer than usual winters with less than normal snowfall in North Dakota, is above-average sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The CPC has anticipated the formation of a weak El Nino since early fall of 2018 with each month resulting in increased odds of official formation. In Thursday’s assessment, the CPC is sticking with a 90 percent probability of El Nino forming, albeit possibly not until late this winter or perhaps even in early spring. The explanation is that a “coupling” has not occurred between the warmer ocean waters and the atmosphere.

Even though the El Nino, if and when it becomes officially recognized by the CPC, is expected to be weak, it is already being credited somewhat for influencing our milder than usual winter to date. The 90 percent expectation of El Nino formation runs through February and then, says the CPC, chances of El Nino forming diminish slowly through March-April-May.

The latest CPC long-range weather outlook call for normal to below normal temperatures beginning in mid-January and continuing until late in the month for most of North Dakota. Normal daytime highs for the second half of January are slightly more than 20 degrees with nighttime lows in the single digits.