… and by that I mean the El Niño phase of the El Niño Souther Oscillation climate pattern.
We have been in an ENSO neutral phase for a while. Climate scientists have a hard time predicting El Niño, which arrives in Summer, Fall, or Winter, this early in the year, but nonetheless most prediction sources, and most models, now tell us that we are likely to have one staring, really, any time, but most likely Summer or Fall. Here’s a graph of several models. The bottom colored area is Le Niña, who we assume was Jesus Christ’s sister, and the top colored area is El Ninño, with the middle part being neutral. What is being measured here is sea surface temperature anomaly in certain areas of the Pacific Ocean.
The ENSO is complex and I won’t try to explain it all here, but the bottom line is this: During some periods heat accumulated on the surface of the Pacific is moved by currents (driven by winds) deeper into the ocean. During other periods, El Niño, the heat moves back to the surface again.
It is interesting to note that there are probably two kinds of El Niño: Regular and “Modoki”. Modoki is Japanese for “Similar but different.” So perhaps we can think of Modoki El Niño as Brian. Anyway, the Modoki El Niño is different in a few ways, one of those being that while regular El Niño tends to attenuate Atlantic hurricane activity by causing more tropical storm-killing vertical wind shear, the Modoki variety may enhance the likelihood of landfalling hurricanes in the US. I’ve not seen any predictions that we are more likely to have Modoki El Niño this year, but a paper just coming out on a related topic, that I’m busy writing up suggests that it may be the case.
For more information on this year’s predictions, see these sources:
El Niño likely to develop in winter (Australian Bureau of Meteorology)