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El Niño - City Comparisons by Month

Cold and warm episodes of ENSO are defined by CPC when the threshold of +/- 0.5 C for the Oceanic Nino Index (3 month running average of sea surface temperatures between 5 deg N-5 deg S, 120-170 deg W) is met for a minimum of 5 consecutive over-lapping seasons.

(temperature departures from 1971-2000 30 year normal)

Weak El Niño 0.5-1.0° C ... Moderate El Niño 1.0-1.5° C ... Strong El Niño 1.5° C and warmer

 

Weak El Niño events during the month of November have typically produced warmer than normal    weather for Western and North Central New York. As the strength of the event increases though, temperatures have averaged closer to normal. The exception is shown in Watertown where cooler than normal conditions have occurred during El Niños of moderate strength.


El Niño events during the month of December tend to produce the most significant temperature departures of the winter season. This chart clearly shows that greater positive temperature departures directly coincide with stronger El Niño events. All three cities show positive temperature departures of about 5 deg F during strong El Niño episodes, while weak events usually show little influence. For the Buffalo area, there is evidence that the higher temperatures during the stronger December El Niño events result in significantly less lake effect snow.


Like the month of December, temperatures in January show a greater positive departure during increasingly stronger El Niño events. Note that temperatures during weak El Niño events actually average a little below normal. This is most pronounced in Watertown where temperatures have averaged nearly 2 degrees F below normal.


It is very interesting that temperatures this month for all three cities average well below normal during a weak El Niño. Like the previous winter months, the temperature departures become increasingly positive as the strength of the El Niño increases.


Moderately strong El Niños produce the most significant temperature departures in March, with all three cities averaging nearly 4 degrees F above normal. Note once again that temperatures average below normal during weak events.


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