The latest ENSO diagnostic discussion is hot off the presses (El Niño watch)

Mid-October 2014 plume of model predictions via the Climate Prediction Center
Mid-October 2014 plume of model predictions via the Climate Prediction Center

From the Climate Prediction Center:

Synopsis: There is a 58% chance of El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere winter, which is
favored to last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.

During October 2014, above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) increased slightly across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. The weekly Niño indices were between +0.6°C (Niño-3.4 and Niño-1+2) and +0.9°C (Niño-3) at the end of the month. Subsurface heat content anomalies (averaged between 180o-100oW) were largely unchanged even as a new downwelling Kelvin wave increased temperatures at depth in the central Pacific. The monthly equatorial low-level winds were near average, although anomalous westerlies continued to emerge on occasion. Upper-level winds were also mostly average across the Pacific. The Southern Oscillation Index continued to be negative, accompanied by mostly average rainfall near the Date Line and suppressed rainfall over Indonesia. Overall, several features across the tropical Pacific are characteristic of borderline El Niño conditions, but collectively, the combined atmosphere and oceanic state remains ENSO-neutral.

Similar to last month, most models predict El Niño to develop during October-December 2014 and to continue into early 2015. However, the ongoing lack of clear atmosphere-ocean coupling and the latest NCEP CFSv2 model forecast have reduced confidence that El Niño will fully materialize (at least five overlapping consecutive 3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index at or greater than 0.5°C). If El Niño does emerge, the forecaster consensus favors a weak event. In summary, there is a 58% chance of El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere winter, which is favored to last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.

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