NEW BLOOMFIELD — Early Thursday morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA, announced that an El Niño Advisory had begun.
An El Niño Advisory is a declaration that an El Niño is now underway in both the atmosphere and ocean.
Since the fall of 2018, scientists have been watching the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America, for warmer or colder than average sea surface temperatures. This region holds the weather phenomenon know as El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.
Colder than average temperatures would signify a La Niña, while warmer than average sea surface temperatures in that region could mean an El Niño is developing.
Currently, those sea surface temperatures are trending warmer than average, showing signs that an El Niño has developed and may strengthed for the spring of 2019.
NOAA has given a 55 percent chance that an El Niño will continue to develop and impact this next spring. Until early February 2019, conditions were in an ENSO-neutral phase, meaning no sea surface temperature abnormalities were strong enough for a definite El Niño or La Niña.
NOAA has stated that significant, global impacts of this event are not expected, as this is not expected to be a partially strong El Niño.
Since then, there has been a small and steady warming of sea surface temperatures since October 2018. Conditions have now reached the point to where a weak El Niño could impact Spring of 2019, leading to the El Niño Advisory.
El Niños and La Niñas, a part of ENSO, have the potential to shape weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere.
Below is the typical late winter/early spring weather pattern of the United States during an El Niño.
This is the potential weather pattern that could sink in for this spring if a strong El Niño develops.
For central Missouri, this could mean a warmer than average spring and more active severe weather season.
Previous El Niños have brought above average temperatures during wintertime months, above average precipitation, more frequent cold snaps, and active severe weather seasons during the winter and spring months for the United States.
During the strong El Niño of 2015-2016, December ranked as the third warmest on record for central Missouri.
During the strong El Niño of 1987-1988, January ranked as the third snowiest on record for central Missouri, with 21.2 inches. falling within the month.
The spring and summer of 2003, during a moderate El Niño, Missouri saw a particularity active serve weather season.
However, it's likely that this El Niño will be one of the weaker ones in recent history and not as strong as the ones listed above. The above data was taken as examples to showcase some of the extremes that occurred during previous El Niño events.
With this being said, scientists will continue to monitoring the progression of the current "ENSO" pattern in the Pacific Ocean.
To read the full statement of the El Niño Watch issued by NOAA, click here.