How El Niño may influence Winter 2015-16 in Tucson

A lot is being made about this year’s blossoming El Niño. Will it live up to the hype that last year’s version failed to deliver?

El Niño is defined when sea surface temperatures (SST’s for short) in the eastern Pacific Ocean are at least 0.5° above normal. As of late July, SST’s are well above that mark. Hello Summer El Niño!


Dynamical & statistical models show El Niño growing into a “strong” to borderline “very strong” event as we approach Winter. The last time we had an El Niño of such strength: the famed Winter of 1997-98. It’s been a while.


No reason for me to doubt NOAA’s Winter 2015-16 precipitation outlook for Arizona, which favors above average rainfall/snowfall. Back in the Winter of 1997-98, Tucson picked up an astounding 6.25″. Tucson’s average Winter rainfall? 2.60″.  We’ll see if history repeats itself.


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