El Nino no longer expected this winter
A man shovels snow caused by a nor'easter storm, in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York. (ANDREW BURTON, Reuters / November 8, 2012)
Recent updates had already indicated El Nino was growing less likely, but the probability it will form has fallen to below 50 percent starting in December. In a monthly outlook published Thursday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center wrote that while El Nino cannot be ruled out, onset is increasingly unlikely over the next six months.
The change in forecast may disappoint snow lovers in Maryland, as El Nino winters are associated with above normal snowfall here. But even with neutral conditions -- neither an El Nino or a La Nina -- most seasonal forecasts have called for a decent amount of snow this winter, particularly relative to last winter's 1.8 inches for Baltimore.
El Nino is a global climate pattern associated with warmer-than-normal Pacific Ocean surface temperatures near the equator. The climate center's outlook acknowledges that the temperatures have warmed slightly recently, but are still consistent with neutral conditions.
Storms like this week's nor'easter are also common during El Nino conditions, but clearly don't depend on them to develop.
The planet was under an El Nino watch starting in June, originally expected to set in by fall. But odds have slowly dipped since late summer.
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