This photo of Forrest Shearer slashing pow has up frothing for a strong winter. Photo: Andrew Miller

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA,  just released their August weather advisory and bumped the strength of this El Niño from moderate to strong at its peak, which is predicted to occur late fall and early winter. There is now an 85 percent chance this El Niño will last into early spring, which is a five percent jump from NOAA's last El Niño forecast in July.

“There is a greater than 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85 percent chance it will last into early spring 2016,” said the NOAA August Synopsis.

The report continued, “All models surveyed predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2016, and all multi-model averages predict a strong event at its peak in late fall/early winter, 3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater.” Read the full NOAA Report here.

The big buzz around this El Niño is that it may become the strongest in history, out-warming the 1997-1998 season. However, many atmospheric changes need to occur for this particular El Niño to reach this record-breaking status.

“The El Niño of 1997-1998 was the strongest on record that we have seen, but it is very hard to compare these two,” said NOAA meteorologist Tom DiLiberto.  “All El Niño's are unique. They form in different ways, because there are many, diverse atmospheric ongoings which cause each storm to form in their own way.  There are some similarities in terms of how warm the anomalies currently are in the ocean, but we will have to wait until this El Niño's peak to see if it will evolve like 1997-1998.

So now that we know this is a strong El Niño, what can we expect weather-wise for winter 2015-2016?


Meteorologist Chris Tomer’s North American El Niño predictions for the 2015/2016 winter season. Copyright: Meteorologist Chris Tomer

View out this info graph from Chris Tomer, OnTheSnow's Mountain Meteorologist. This gives an overview of what we could potentially expect this winter. Forecasting exact implications of this El Niño will become easier as we draw closer to winter, but we're obviously hoping for a big season everywhere.

Read more about El Niño here:

It's an El Niño Year; What Does That Mean for Snowboarders?

El Niño vs. La Niña: Which Produces Snowier Winters

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