January 2024 ENSO Update (GEOS-S2S)

Authors: Anna Borovikov, Meredith Nichols

The January ENSO forecast of the S2S 2.1 mean forecasts a progressive cooling of the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) heading into the Spring months and continuing into the early Autumn months. Earlier December runs were also in agreement that a shift into neutral or Niño 3.4 conditions were likely heading into Summer. Reynolds, plotted in black, shows the observed SSTs in this region and depicts a likely flattening out of the maxima in SST between November and December, likely to remain steady in January.

slide graphic from ENSO
Figure 1

January, February, and March two meter temperature and precipitation forecast anomalies from January’s S2S 2.1 run forecast widespread warming over Canada in January and February that approach neutral conditions in central and southeastern Canada in March. A cooling of the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions is forecasted for February and March, with drier conditions also expected in that region during that time-frame – not ideal for snow lovers!

slide graphic from ENSO
Figure 2

January, February, and March two meter temperature and precipitation forecast anomalies from January’s S2S 2.1 run forecast cooling over Northern Europe in January and February, that become more widespread in March. A warm bias is prevalent in Africa and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in both January and February before approaching neutral conditions in March. Most of Europe is forecasted to be wetter than normal for the next two months, except for Scandinavia and northern parts of the United Kingdom.

slide graphic from ENSO
Figure 3

The 2024 El Niño is starting to be referred to as an uncoupled El Niño. The last major uncoupled El Niño occurred back in 2018, depicted below in Figure 4. Like 2024, temperatures were anomalously high over much of North America during that El Niño, yet Alaska remained anomalously cool for February and March of that year while the Eastern US remained warm. Precipitation differs between the uncoupled events, with 2018 exhibiting a dry February in the Eastern US but a wet March.

slide graphic from ENSO
Figure 4

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