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El Nino-Southern Oscillation Updates

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Date: January 22, 2019

Recent observations and climate model outlooks suggest the immediate risk of El Niño has passed.

However, there remains an increased likelihood that El Niño will develop later in 2019. The Bureau's ENSO Outlook has therefore moved to El Niño WATCH, meaning there is approximately a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the southern hemisphere autumn or winter.

Tropical Pacific sea surface and sub-surface temperatures remain warmer than average, but since late 2018 they have cooled from El Niño-like values towards ENSO-neutral values. Atmospheric indicators such as cloudiness, trade winds and the Southern Oscillation Index all continue to generally remain within the ENSO-neutral range.

While most climate models indicate ENSO-neutral conditions for the immediate future, the current ocean warmth and likelihood of ongoing warmer than average conditions mean the risk of El Niño remains. Three of eight models suggest that El Niño may establish by mid-2019.

NOAA National Weather Service / Climate Prediction Center

Date: January 22, 2019

  • ENSO-neutral conditions are present.
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are above average across most of the Pacific Ocean. 
  • The patterns of convection and winds are mostly near average over the tropical Pacific. 
  • El Niño is expected to form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2019 (~65% chance).

International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Date: January 19, 2019

El Niño-level SSTs continued to be observed in the December average, and the subsurface waters continued to be warmer than average, but less strongly so. However, key atmospheric variables continued to show mainly ENSO-neutral patterns. The official CPC/IRI outlook calls for a 82% chance of El Niño prevailing during Jan-Mar, and 66% during Mar-May. An El Niño watch is in effect. The most recent forecasts of statistical and dynamical models collectively show continuing weak El Niño-level SSTs through late spring.

World Meteorological Organization

Date: November 27, 2018

  • Conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean have been at a weak El Niño level since October 2018, but the corresponding El Niño patterns have not developed in the atmosphere.
  • Model predictions and expert opinion indicate a 75-80% chance that the ocean and atmosphere will couple, leading to the occurrence of an El Niño during the period December 2018-February 2019. Odds are about 60% for El Niño to continue through February-April 2019.
  • Model predictions and expert opinion also lead us to expect a weak to moderate El Niño event, with sea surface temperatures of about 0.8 to 1.2 degrees Celsius above average in the east-central tropical Pacific for the December 2018-February 2019 season. A strong El Niño event appears unlikely at this stage.
  • Through Northern Hemisphere spring 2019, the development of La Niña is highly unlikely.
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