The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued an El Niño Watch indicating that conditions are favorable for a return of the climate phenomenon in the next six months. “Neutral” conditions are likely through the summer, but NOAA and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society predict a return of an El Niño by the fall. This could mean the first return of El Niño in 4 years!
El Niño refers to a warming of tropical Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Peru. The formation of El Niño can increases the likelihood of wet conditions in California and the Southwest, which could provide relief to areas suffering through severe drought. On the flip side, El Niño can cause warm winter conditions in the Northeast meaning more rain and less snowmaking.
The forecast comes with a caveat, though. El Niño forecasts this far out come with great uncertainty. The last El Niño watch was issued back in 2012 but that one turned out to be a bust. That year saw El Niño conditions develop in the first half of fall but die out by the end of October.