Animation Compares 1997 vs. 2015 El Niños Side-by-Side

posted by Barry Parr
Mon, September 7, 2015

The California Climate Blog has a great video comparing this year’s El Niño to 1997’s:

Those similarities and differences matter because they can affect how an El Niño’s typical impacts on global weather — from drought to deluges — shape up, the reason it receives such rapt attention. ...

“I was a little shocked just how closely 2015 resembles 1997 visually,” Rehme said in a statement.

But as any El Niño researcher will tell you, no two El Niño events are alike, and the impacts from this one aren’t guaranteed to be just like 1997-1998.

The most obvious difference between this year and that event, clearly visible in the animation, is the “blob” of warm water off the west coast of North America, a symptom of the relentless high pressure pattern that has kept the West hot and dry over much of the last few years and led to the deep drought in California.

Right now, it is unclear how this warm patch will interact with the typical El Niño impacts (which aren’t guaranteed to materialize). That warmth could mean that any storms that hit drop more rain instead of much-needed snow that could help replenish depleted reservoirs.


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