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Mar 6, 2014 11:22 AM by Meteorologist Mike Heard

El Nino likely to develop by this summer

This past winter ENSO neutral (no El Nino or La Nina) played a small part in producing a wide variety of winter conditions across Montana with a cold and snowy December to a dry and mild January followed by one of the most extreme February's in recent history.

Looking forward the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center issued and El Nino Watch, indicating a possibility of El Nino developing this summer or fall.

What is El Nino? Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific ocean near the equator that can influence weather trends across the U.S. and the northern hemisphere.

I'll be watching very closely this summer to see how strong this El Nino is and how strong it could become by October. We break these events down into three categories: Weak, Moderate and Strong. Weak El Nino events usually trend our winter season to slightly warmer than normal and drier than normal, whereas, a strong El Nino will likely lock us into a much warmer and drier winter season in 2014-2015.

It is way too early to predict next winter's weather patterns and for now we watch the equatorial pacific for clues.

NOAA El Nino Impacts

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

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