From AgVenture's Seeds for Success Agronomy Update, January 2016
Meteorologists are evaluating comparisons between the current strong El Niño and that from 18 years ago. In December 1997, sea surface height was more intense and peaked in November. According to Alan Buis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this year, the area of high sea levels is less intense, but much broader. This year’s current strong El Niño shows no signs of weakening, and experts expect the weather chaos to continue the next few months.
NOAA expects many of El Niño’s biggest impacts early in 2016. Conditions favor an El Niño-induced shift in weather patterns starting now and continuing for several months of relatively cool and wet conditions across the southern United States, and relatively warm and dry conditions over the northern United States. In 1997-98, the El Niño caused the January 1998 New England ice storm, mild weather and little snowfall across the northern U.S., and storms across the south. NOAA reports that early in 2015, atmospheric conditions changed, and El Niño steadily expanded in the central and eastern Pacific. Although the sea surface height signal in 1997 was more intense and peaked in November of that year, in 2015, the area of high sea levels is larger. This could mean we have not yet seen the peak of this El Niño (sources: NASA, NOAA, and Alan Buis).