According to U.S. forecasters and based on historical patterns, a robust and persistent El Nino is likely to result in below-average snowfall in most of Canada and the northern United States this winter,
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) recently released a blog post examining El Nino winters dating back to 1959 and found that this climate phenomenon typically leads to reduced snowfall in many parts of southern Canada and the northern U.S. states. Regions most affected include the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, and the Great Lakes areas, where snowfall during January to March is typically 15 to 25 cm less than in regular winters.
During winters characterized as moderate or strong El Nino events, like the one forecasted for this year, the impact becomes even more pronounced. El Nino is a natural climate phenomenon that occurs every three to five years, characterized by unusually warm surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific, causing global weather pattern alterations.
During El Nino winters, the jet stream shifts and carries storm fronts along an unusual path dominated by warmer and wetter Pacific air, typically resulting in above-average snowfall in the southern U.S. However, these accumulations are unlikely to match those seen in the northern regions. The CPC analysis revealed that northern Quebec and Labrador may receive up to 25 cm more snow than the average during an El Nino event.
Historically, central U.S. states and Canadian provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan remain largely unaffected by El Nino’s snowfall patterns. In contrast, nearly all other provinces in the west and east, as well as the northern territories, experience reduced snowfall during El Nino events. The most significant changes are observed in western British Columbia, southern Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces.
The data for this analysis was sourced from the Climate Data Store, provided by the European Union’s Copernicus climate satellite system.
Last month, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) already indicated a strong El Nino impact for this winter, bringing above-average temperatures to many parts of the U.S. and other regions worldwide.
The United Nations has linked recent extreme weather events, such as heavy rains and flooding in Somalia and drought in South American countries like Brazil, to El Nino. The agency predicts that El Nino is likely to persist through the first half of 2024, which could impact agriculture in Latin America.
China’s National Climate Centre has also advised that the country may experience a warmer-than-usual winter following a sharp temperature increase and subsequent decrease earlier this month.
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