El Niño Brings Cold, Stormy, Wet Winter Projections for Florida
The 2023/2024 Winter forecasts of El Niño brings cold, stormy, wet winter projections to Florida after three years of La Nina influenced conditions. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) weather system has three designations: La Niña, ENSO-neutral, and El Niño.
“We’re probably going to have a pretty wet winter, maybe a little bit more mild we are hoping considering the weather we had last year around December,” said Nick Bonn, Rockaway Residential Account Manager. “It’s a high probability that we’ll have some fungal diseases start from that. We want to be aware and we want to be looking out for it. As we come to the Spring season we want to stray away from having those winter issues to help with our turf coming out of dormancy getting a good start up in the spring. Getting a lot of that color back and getting everything growing.”
The shift to El Niño conditions is attributed to warming surface waters by 0.5 degrees Celsius or more in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, which disrupts the trade winds’ intensity and direction. As a result, Northern parts of the United States see less snow and fewer Arctic blasts, and weather in the Southeast becomes more volatile.
“NOAA’s latest seasonal outlook predicts up to 60 percent above average rainfall across the peninsula through February,” according to the Weather Channel. “While El Niño tends to bring cooler winters to Florida, it lessens the chance of a major freeze. That’s because of an accompanying strong subtropical jet stream that tends to keep cold blasts of arctic air out of the Southeast.”
Increased rain during the Florida Winter dry season can reduce the threat of droughts and wildfires. The lawn and garden will need less watering, but the risk of fungal disease and flooding increase. “The Pacific must warm to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above normal for an El Niño event to be considered strong,” according to The Palm Beach Post. “Emily Becker, an associate scientist with the University of Miami, said a recent weekly reading had it at 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal.”
In the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) weather system, several variables are monitored and analyzed, including:
1. Sea Surface Temperature (SST): SST refers to the temperature of the ocean’s surface. In ENSO, the anomalies in the SST in the equatorial Pacific Ocean play a crucial role. During El Niño, the SSTs are above average, while during La Niña, the SSTs are below average.
2. Southern Oscillation Index (SOI): SOI measures the atmospheric pressure differences between Darwin in Australia and Tahiti in the Pacific. It reflects the strength and phase of ENSO. A positive SOI indicates La Niña conditions, while a negative SOI indicates El Niño conditions.
3. Trade Winds: Trade winds blow east to west across the equatorial Pacific, pushing warm surface waters towards the western Pacific. Changes in the strength and direction of trade winds indicate ENSO events.
4. Walker Circulation: The Walker Circulation is a system of atmospheric circulation that includes rising air over the western Pacific and sinking air over the eastern Pacific. During El Niño, the Walker Circulation weakens, while during La Niña, it strengthens.
5. Upwelling: Upwelling refers to the process where cold, nutrient-rich waters rise from the ocean’s depths to the surface. In the equatorial Pacific, upwelling is suppressed during El Niño events due to the decreased trade winds, leading to reduced productivity in marine ecosystems.
These variables are essential for monitoring and predicting ENSO events and their impact on global and regional weather patterns.
El Niño occurs when a sustained warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean causes a shift in atmospheric circulation patterns. During El Niño, trade winds weaken or reverse, leading to a decrease in the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water along the coast of South America. This results in reduced rainfall in the eastern Pacific and increased rainfall in the central and eastern Pacific, including parts of the Americas and even as far as East Africa. El Niño events usually last for several months to a year or more. La Niña, on the other hand, is characterized by sustained cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
During La Niña, trade winds strengthen, causing enhanced upwelling of cold water along the coast of South America. La Niña events generally lead to increased rainfall in the western Pacific, including parts of Southeast Asia and Australia, while the eastern Pacific experiences reduced rainfall. The establishment and transition between El Niño, La Niña, and Neutral phases of ENSO are influenced by various factors, including ocean temperature anomalies, atmospheric pressure patterns, and interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. Global circulation patterns and other climate phenomena, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, also influence the ENSO cycle.
Scientists monitor and predict the development of ENSO using a combination of observations from weather buoys, satellites, and computer models. This helps to provide valuable information for anticipating and preparing for potential climate impacts associated with El Niño and La Niña events, such as changes in rainfall patterns, temperature anomalies, and their effects on agriculture, ecosystems, and weather patterns worldwide.
From our office in Atlantic Beach and satellites throughout Northeast Florida, Rockaway Inc proudly serves both commercial and residential landscape design, maintenance, lawn care, irrigation, and outdoor living carpentry client needs in Jacksonville, St Augustine, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Nocatee, St. Johns, and Fernandina Beach.