Long Range Forecaster
When the ocean water temperatures off the east coast of South America, around the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, are 1.5 degrees Celsius or more above average it is known as El Nino. Why, though, is this El Nino event being called, by some, Godzilla?
During an El Nino year precipitation increases on the Western coast of South America, southern Mexico and Central America. It can also bring above average precipitation to parts of the southern United States. Typically during an El Nino event parts of Australia and Indonesia the warmer waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean increase typhoon activity in the Pacific and somewhat decrease hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean; although that is not always the case, as seen with hurricane Joaquin this season.
El Nino years come in cycles, roughly every 3-6 years. Some El Nino cycles are more intense than others, such as the event that occurred during 1982-83 and 1997-98. During the 1997-1998 El Nino event devastating and catastrophic flooding occurred in southern California as well as in parts of Mexico. This was the strongest El Nino event on record.
What does this mean for Oklahoma? During the winter months Oklahoma could see temperatures that vary between above, below, or at normal averages with above average precipitation. The spring months, however, look to be a little cooler than normal but with above normal precipitation rates as well.
This season’s El Nino is shaping up to be the same or stronger because it is following the
same temperature track that the event of 1997-98 did. Many meteorologists and climatologists are expecting this year’s event to strengthen beyond that giving it the name Godzilla.