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El Niño will be here by mid-summer | What does that mean for the Quad Cities?

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center has 90% confidence we will be in El Niño by July.

MOLINE, Ill. — VIDEO: Andrew explains La Niña and El Niño and their effects for spring 2023.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has issued its latest El Niño Southern Oscillation Discussion in which it reports with 90% confidence that we will be transitioning into an El Niño in the late spring to summer, between May and July, and will remain in that for the winter.

They are predicting that a weak ENSO will ensue with an 80% chance for a moderate El Niño and about a 55% chance for a strong El Niño.

What is an El Niño?

An El Niño is one of the two climate patterns, La Niña is the other, in the Pacific Ocean that can affect our weather worldwide. An El Niño or La Niña typically lasts 9-to-12 months but sometimes can last years.

During El Niño, trade winds weaken, and warm water is pushed back to the east towards the American west coast. The warm waters affect the jet stream causing it to move south. This downward shift causes areas in the northern U.S. and Canada to be warmer and dryer than normal. 

It causes the Gulf Coast and the Southeast to experience wetter than normal conditions.

Credit: NOAA

El Niño impact on our weather

We mainly feel the effects of an El Niño or La Niña in the fall or winter, but if the forecasted El Niño develops fast enough, we could possibly feel its effects this summer. 

An El Niño could impact our hurricane season. During an El Niño, there is wind shear which prevents the formation of hurricanes, therefore during an El Niño hurricane season, we see less than average hurricanes and major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). 

Colorado State University released its 2023 Atlantic hurricane season predictions on April 13 and had predicted less than average hurricanes, named storms and major hurricanes this year.

Credit: NOAA and Phil Klotzbach/CSU

As we head into the winter, we will be experiencing the full strength of an El Niño. As of this publishing, we can expect milder weather in the northern portion of the U.S. and wetter conditions in the southern portion of the U.S. Of course, we will continue to track that here for you at WQAD and update you as the fall and winter approach.

The next ENSO discussion will be released on June 8.

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