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Strengthening El Niño Likely This Winter

El Niño. The term that, let's be honest, makes most of us think of this:

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But, it's a real scientific phenomenon! And on average, it cycles through every two to seven years. El Niño is the warming of surface waters near the equatorial Pacific. And that change in surface water temperatures can have a big influence on weather patterns across the United States. While we have been watching what looked to be a mild El Niño the past couple of months, data has continued to show above normal temps by one to two degrees in the central equatorial and eastern Pacific. And long range models all consistently show a moderate to strong El Niño through this winter with its peak during early winter. Furthermore, experts give a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85% chance it will last into early spring 2016.

So, what does this mean for us in Wisconsin? Here's a visual of what a typical season under El Niño conditions will favor.

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The chance for us to enjoy a milder winter are pretty good this time around. Often times an El Niño will favor less than normal snowfall. But, our season will still have periods of cold and snow, so don't pack the shovels away for good!

For now, the contiguous United States should see minimal temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño during the remainder of summer. The effects will likely kick into high gear later this fall and through our winter.

Here's what other parts of the nation may face moving forward. El Niño will likely contribute to a below normal Atlantic hurricane season, and to above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and eastern Pacific hurricane basins. The big news is that the drought stricken areas of the west, especially California may see some good relief with above normal precipitation.

This will be a topic of focus in the coming months so please check back for updates as the fall season gets closer.

I'm meteorologist Rebecca Schuld

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