by BelandaAugust 6, 2018

El Niño, a Spanish word used by Peruvian anchovy fishermen that means ‘boy child’ a reference to Christ child. El Niño is the warming of ocean currents off the South American coast around December and causes below normal rain patterns and above normal temperatures in specific areas around the world and Southern Africa often gets hit hard with drought. For 2 months in a row now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued an El Niño watch meaning all eyes are open and forecasts thus far are looking favourable for an El Niño to develop again this year.

South Africa is No Stranger to El Niño

South Africa in particular is no stranger to El Niño having been through numerous droughts in the past as a result. This current winter in South Africa has already seen some not so common weather patterns with many areas of the interior receiving rainfall and even hail in mid winter while the Western Cape and City of Cape Town have seen some welcome rainfall but not nearly enough to lift the province out of harm’s way and their Winter rainfall period is already drawing to a close.

ENSO is the El Niño & La Niña (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) and is a naturally occurring phenomenon that involves fluctuating ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. La Niña, Spanish for ‘the girl’, is the opposite of El Nino. La Nina is the COOLING of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean which influences atmospheric circulation and as a result causes period of above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures.

The pattern can shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions of temperature, precipitation, and winds. These changes disrupt the large-scale air movements in the tropics, triggering a cascade of global side effects.

El Niño and La Niña have their strongest impact on global climate during the Northern Hemisphere winter.  The map above from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) shows some of the precipitation and temperature patterns that might occur this coming winter if El Niño develops as predicted. However, not all impacts appear during every El Niño event.

So with two El Nino Watches having been issued in June and July all eyes are open and awaiting the next month of ENSO updates from NOAA and the IRI. South Africans can keep abreast of  ENSO – El Niño and La Niña Updates for Southern Africa at the new local weather resource SAWX or from the South African Weather Services web site. We will keep you updated as more information comes in.


 Source: https://www.environment.co.za/weather-south-africa/possibility-of-el-nino-looming-once-again-for-southern-africa.html

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