Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2015 Vol. 62 No. 12

Cold and Wet Texas Winter

El Niño Is Here!
El Niño is here to stay for the winter of 2015-2016. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center gives a 95% chance that El Niño will last through the winter, before gradually weakening through the spring and summer of 2016. El Niño has been addressed several times within Texas Emergency Management Online, including the basics of what it is, and what it meant for last winter and the hurricane season. Check out those past posts for more of a general overview. One thing that briefly should be mentioned is the strength of this El Niño. While it has been reported as a “Godzilla” El Niño, as of the update in early October the 2015 El Niño ranked among the strongest on record, going back to 1950. This year’s El Niño is the second or third strongest depending on comparisons to sea surface temperature or the atmospheric response. For more about the strength of this year’s El Niño, read this post from the El Niño Southern Oscillation Blog.

US Winter Outlook Temperature

What That Means For Winter
To sum up what a strong El Niño means for Texas requires two words: cooler and wetter. The outlook for the meteorological winter (December through February) shows all of Texas with a greater chance of both cooler and wetter weather than normal. The maps show much of the state will have a greater than 40 percent chance of being cooler than normal along with a greater than 50 percent chance of being wetter than normal. One big outcome of this is reflected in the Climate Prediction Center’s Drought Tendency Outlook. Their outlook, which is a prediction from October through January, shows drought conditions improving and/or ending across the Lone Star State.

US Winter Outlook Precipitation

The Wet Year and Fall So Far
Despite the dry months at the end of the summer, it has been a wet fall across much of the state of Texas, especially the month of October. This is in addition to the wet and stormy May over much of Texas. Below are some rainfall totals for the year compared to normal, along with October rainfall totals compared to the normal for October.

2015 Rainfall Total is through November 10, 2015

For more information on the winter outlook, check out this video from the Climate Prediction Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yZiYtoezlY or the El Niño Southern Oscillation Blog: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/what-expect-winter-noaa%E2%80%99s-outlook-reveals-what-conditions-are-favored

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