NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) latest El Niño update on their ENSO blog details data showing that the 2015 El Niño is shaping up to be an all-time climate event—and suggests it could be the “Bruce Lee” of El Niños. Putting something on par with Bruce Lee—especially when it’s coming from a government agency—is not to be taken lightly.
Since our last blog post about El Niño, sea surface temperatures (SST) have continued to rise and other anomalies characteristic of an ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) event are increasingly present, according to NOAA. In fact, higher SST temperatures are indicating it could be even stronger than the last biggest event in 1997-98, which was one of the most significant of the 20th century, according to the White House, dropping record-breaking snow across parts North and South America.
July 1997 vs. July 2015
The proof is in NOAA’s SST charts below—the red areas indicate the warmest SST. Most notably, the red gash across the Pacific which was present in 1997 is also present now.
What can skiers expect if 2015-16 is like 1997-98?
In some regions, skiers and snowboarders can expect a longer and snowier season if 2015-16 takes the same shape as 1997-98. During the 1997-98 event, Chilean ski resorts received upwards of 450 inches of snow and the season was extended well into October.
NOAA’s most recent update also upgraded the 2015-16 El Niño’s longevity. Last month, scientists and forecasters agreed that there was an 80 percent chance that El Niño would continue into the North American winter. Now, NOAA is saying:
“Overall, there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 80% chance it will last into early spring 2016.”
If you crave powder, the odds are in your favor for 2015-16. Stay ahead of the powder-hungry crowd, get your first pick of travel dates and lodging and book your ski vacation well in advance this year. Start by building a customized quote here. If you have additional questions, our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts are standing by at 800-610-8911.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.