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Will El Niño Return for Summer 2017?

Rumors of El Niño returning for summer 2017 have been percolating through meteorological echo chambers for the past few months, but beginning in mid-April, mainstream media outlets like the New York Times started spilling the beans to the public at large, alerting Americans of all walks of life that another El Niño may return for the summer and persist through the winter. Indeed, climate models are in reasonable agreement that a weak-moderate El Niño will develop over the next few months. If this were to happen, it would be the most rapid switch from El Niño to La Niña and then back to El Niño since the July 1963- April 1966 time period, when we swung from El Niño to La Niña and back again over three consecutive winters, only spending a combined 6 months over that time period in Neutral, or as some prefer to call them, “La Nada” conditions.

The tropical Pacific, which can be thought as ground zero for El Niño, is currently giving us mixed signals as a whole. While the Eastern Pacific appears to be in full-on El Niño mode, the Central Pacific is still firmly in Neutral conditions, and the atmospheric circulation over the most of the tropical Pacific still looks more reminiscent of a La Niña!