Is El Nino going to happen?
That has been the question for going on two years now as scientists at the Climate Prediction Center monitor the ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific and try to figure out whether the cyclical weather phenomenon is going to visit or not.
As of Dec. 10, forecasters in Japan said yes, it's here. And forecasters in the U.S. said there is a 65% chance that it will develop sometime this winter.
Officially, at least in the U.S., the word is that we remain "El Nino neutral" which means there is neither warming – nor cooling – of the much-measured waters.
Ordinarily in Kansas, an El Nino event primarily affects winter weather. And that means if it hasn't appeared by mid-December, it's unlikely to have much of an impact. Additionally, scientists this year are saying that if it does appear it will be a weak event. Weak events tend not to have much impact on worldwide weather patterns.
That said, the official Climate Prediction Center forecast for much of Kansas in December, January and February predicts below average temperatures and an equal chance of above average or below average precipitation.
If you look at January, February and March it indicates below average temperatures in southeast and along the southern border and slightly above average precipitation in the western half of the state (which would be nice considering it's pretty dry right now).
Those official forecasts, howefer, pretty much bear out what we know about the much-watched El Nino. Only years when it is well-established and relatively strong show a significant relationship to weather patterns across the U.S. In years like this year, when it is maybe or weak, the impact is less likely to be noticeable.
Watch for your January Kansas Farmer for more on the question of whether Kansas is recycling to drought and what may be going on with El Nino.