The periodic climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean known as El Niño has reached “strong” levels, according to scientists at the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) in College Park, Maryland. The event commenced in March and is forecast to have its peak influence on U.S. weather this winter, before subsiding next spring.
It ranks as the 2nd- to 3rd-strongest such event on record for this time of year, as measured by the ocean temperature departures from average and other metrics, forecasters said Thursday.
It’s possible that the ongoing event, which should peak in the next several months, will eclipse the mother of all El Niño events, which occurred in 1997-98, as well as another monster El Niño that occurred in 1982-83. That is not assured, however, as it’s not quite there yet. “By any measure, ’97 is stronger” so far, said Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the CPC, during a conference call with reporters. FULL REPORT