December El Niño 2023/24 Update
If you’ve been busy climbing and mountain biking in the desert and missed the news, it’s an El Niño year this season.
Now that winter’s arrived, we’ll soon know how accurate the predictions are. The Climate Predication Center’s most recent update from Nov. 27 states, “El Niño conditions are observed, equatorial sea surface temperatures are above average across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The tropical Pacific atmospheric anomalies are consistent with El Niño and El Niño is anticipated to continue through the Northern Hemisphere’s spring. There are additional reports from meteorologists from the last 30 days that this El Niño is historically strong and/or strengthening.”
Before you get all excited about being neck deep in the fluffy stuff all winter and start booking expensive flights and buying new fat skis, you should know El Niño’s a complex topic. Conditions vary depending on where you’re skiing. Some regions might experience that epic season we all dream about, and some might experience drought or, yikes, more rain events due to warmer El Niño temperatures.
Learn more about this season’s El Niño:
- Arguably, the definitive source is the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. For their most recent (Nov. 27) discussion and assessments, click here. They update this assessment monthly.
- I also recommend the excellent educational piece written by Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist at weather.com, “Most Recent Strong El Niños Show Variety Of Outcomes Possible in Winter 2023-24.”
- JustWeather’s “El Niño is Getting Stronger” and meteorologist Sam Collentine’s “El Niño Is Strengthening, Potential Winter 2023-2024 Impacts” are also good articles making the case for a strengthening El Niño.
Regardless of El Niño, La Niña or No Niña, Powder Cloud hopes you focus on continuing your avalanche education, traveling safely in the backcountry, doing a proper tour plan to avoid avalanche problems, and regularly checking your local avalanche forecast.