Think back to 2016. What was your highlight? John’s world title? The Olympics sans surfing? Coachella? Or a time when you didn’t worry about red power ties or “the” button? No! It was El Niño.
It was the salt water pleasures caused by abnormally warm surface temperatures building up across the Pacific. Which led to predictable patterns of drought or heavy rainfall worldwide (two sides of the atmospheric coin) and also pumped a slew of balmy water and swell to for our embrace.
Then, sadly El Niño perished May 23, 2016. And with it, that solid offseason surf is only remembered over drinks and that time Sandspit did it’s best wave pool impersonation.
Wait, there’s good news! Apparently, El Niño is returning (it always does). And soon. Perhaps even in a few months. On Thursday, the US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center released its monthly El Niño forecast bulletin. Reads the report’s synopsis: “ENSO-neutral and El Niño are nearly equally favoured during the Northern Hemisphere summer and fall 2017”
Which means the chance of El Niño is currently hovering around 45 percent. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), these numbers are predicted to rise above 50 percent and continue to grow exponentially.
“But to declare a full-blown El Niño event, temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have to be elevated at least .5C above average and then remain elevated for several straight months.” And, right now models suggest temperatures in the El Niño sweet spots are hovering around that .5C mark. Remember when unreasonably warm ocean temperatures and massive floods plagued Peru and Ecuador? Tragic, yes. But also evidence supporting these pro-El Niño sentiments.
Normally, El Niño occurs every three to seven years. And it’s only been about a year since the previous run of memorable conditions. Why such and abrupt return? Well, there’s this little thing called climate change (oh, here we go) that is amplifying the environment to hang in a state friendly to El Niño. A small positive drawn from a negative? Sure. Great if you’re into the little (swell-based) victories.
If you want to dig into each technicality, scan over more evidence: check out NOAA’s very detailed blog outlining the El Niño hype. The chances of El Niño happening again (and soon) are more likely than not. And should it show up, we’ll welcome those tired shoulders, endless stories, and clogged video feeds.