South African storm chaser Mungo Poore managed to spot this
As the Climate.gov site addressed in their recent El Niño update article titled “Déjà Vu: El Niño Take Two”, (which I highly recommend reading) it appears as though El Niño is once again forecast this year. For those who were following the tropics or general global weather in detail last year, the early ENSO updates were calling for a moderate to potentially strong El Niño event through the summer (northern hemisphere) months of 2014. This however never came to fruition and instead the years waters remained within the normal range. Once again the early long term models are hinting at very similar conditions as to what they were predicting last year.
The Climate.gov article, written by Michelle Lheureux goes on to explain the similarities between March 2014 and 2015 with regards to signs of El Niño, but also further addresses just how realistic it is for us to put our faith in the March forecasts when looking at wind and ocean anomalies.
For hurricane trackers who monitor the northern Atlantic during hurricane season, El Niño is the enemy. El Niño has been linked to inactive tropical seasons, though you need only look at the 2014 hurricane season to know that it doesn’t matter what the ENSO is saying, an inactive season can take place in any oceanic conditions. Though the presence of El Niño is likely to increase inhibiting factors on tropical development.
For South Africa, El Niño has a less noticeable effect and can impact the country differently depending on geographic location. Since South Africa is comprised of two very different climates (if one is to put it that simply), with the tropical warm summer rains in the northern parts and the cooler rainfall that brings the southern portions of the country their rain by means of cold fronts. The South African Weather Service has a short article on El Niño’s effects within the country and within that article they state that while El Niño tends to bring less rainfall, it’s by no means worth betting on, with ENSO only having a 30% influence on the weather conditions.
The focus on El Niño will definitely be more with those who are waiting anxiously for a hurricane season that manages to produce. After being spoiled in the early to mid-2000s, the Atlantic has, while occasionally providing some excitement, been quiet with only eight named storms in 2014.