The 538 comment system appears to not be working, probably because of my current highly suspicious location, so I figured I’d put my comment here (since I spent a whole minute writing it):
“Long-range forecast models have come to a consensus recently that a minor to moderate El Niño pattern may develop six to nine months from now.
That just isn’t true. Forecasts suggest a 50-50 chance of El Nino, but this is hard to predict. There is no consensus that an El Nino will develop among forecasters who are always super cautious about this prediction and there is only a 50-50 chance.
Also, I see no one saying it would be a moderate El Nino. Do yo have a reference for that? Some, in private, are putting their money on a strong El Nino if one happens, but not saying so publicly because the uncertainty is so high it would be irresponsible (or embarrassing if wrong!)
Regarding California’s lack of water, this may be harder to predict. An El Nino may or may not bring “drenching rains” but it is snow pack that probably matters more, and a single year of El Nino heavy rains may do nothing, so you may have that right. Overall, I agree that the earlier statements about ho El Nino will fix everything were somewhat bogus because, in part, they were being made when ENSO forecasts woul dhave been very tricky and they aren’t much better now.
Finally what is the behavior of a longish term oscillation like ENSO under dramatically changing climate, an the effects of that pattern on other patterns? ENSO affects climate by altering things like jet stream behavior and trade winds. But the Arctic is kicking butt in that area these days. Will we be seeing a major face-off between ENSO oscillation and Arctic Amplification???
I haven’t said much a out 538 and recent forays into climate and weather, but at the moment I’d classify 538 as a Junk Science site, which is highly disappointing. Let’s hope Nate Silver decides to fix that. Taking on an area of science and totally woo-ing out is reputation destroying stuff. It’s not like there isn’t a plethora of talent out there he could tap into.