Chances for a powerful winter El Nino fade - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Chances for a powerful winter El Nino fade

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

This year's winter forecast just got a bit more complicated. It turns out the 2012-13 El Nino, that was supposed to snatch this winter's headlines, might be a no show.

Scientists have been hard at work all summer long looking over data from the Equatorial Pacific region of the globe. The year started with a powerful La Nina that was dominating the weather patterns around the globe by shifting the position of the jet stream. Global computer models forecasted the La Nina (cool ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific) would fall apart and an El Nino (warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific) would replace it by this coming winter. The computer simulations got the first part right, the La Nina did fall apart fast in early summer, but the El Nino has been extremely slow in developing and now it is possible it won't develop at all. If it does, it will be very weak or fall apart by late winter putting us in a neutral pattern (near average ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific).

Without either an El Nino or La Nina, the overall weather patterns are more likely to fluctuate up and down week to week and month to month. The arctic sea ice is now building again with the return of cold air in the polar regions, however the sea ice is still near the October record low which was set in 2007. Recent research has shown that this could promote more blocking in winter's weather patterns which could mean more extreme ups and downs also.

In the past 60 years, there have been 8 winter seasons that have had similar situations. During those 8 years, precipitation and snowfall were around average while temperatures were about 2 degrees below normal in northwest Ohio. Long range computer models are showing roughly average precipitation and temperatures from December 2012 through February 2013 as well.

This doesn't mean the winter will be average across the board. It means smaller scale details will determine the winter's patterns. At this point it is to early to understand how that will play out in the months to come.

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