There is a 50-60 percent chance of an El Nino event forming in middle to late 2017, according to a new update Thursday released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring phenomenon involving fluctuating ocean temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, coupled with changes in the atmosphere. It has a major influence on weather patterns in many parts of the world and has a warming impact on global air temperatures.
Many of the climate models surveyed indicate that basin-wide neutral conditions will persist through to June 2017. The subsequent development of an El Nino during the second half of 2017 is more likely than the continuation of neutral conditions.
"Memories are still fresh of the powerful 2015-2016 El Nino which was associated with droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world and which, combined with the long-term climate change, led to increase of global temperatures to new record highs in both 2015 and 2016," said Maxx Dilley, director of WMOs Climate Prediction and Adaptation division.
"Accurate predictions of the most recent El Nino saved untold lives. Our greatly improved ability to forecast El Nino and La Nina events contributes to the public good and is essential for the agricultural and food security sectors, for management of water resources and public health, as well as for disaster risk reduction," said Dilley.
WMO said that it is important to note also that El Nino and La Nina are not the only factors that drive global climate patterns. The state of ENSO will be carefully monitored.