El Nino Explained: Wet Winter Ahead

Everyone has been asking me if this will be a wet fall/winter season and the answer is “yes”, this is very likely.

An El Nino pattern is characterized by a stronger than average southern branch of the jet stream; this split flow feeds higher than average energy through the steering flow over the southern United States. The vigorous jet can also lead to a greater number of severe thunderstorms than usual through the fall and winter months.
Impulses or “waves” of energy embedded within the jet stream make for a more favorable environment for surface and upper low pressure zones to form. These generate clouds and rain (or snow if it's cold enough).
The warmer ocean temperatures over the eastern Pacific provide additional surface instability which leads to more convection and greater upper atmospheric moisture as well. Often, the upper level jet will have a southwesterly component which pushes a lot of tropical moisture through Texoma skies. This adds further "juice" to rainfall events.
There is a very good correlation between these El Nino events and a wet Texoma winter. Since this is a moderate El Nino, cold air masses are expected to make occasional visits during the winter which may lead to one or more snow/ice events. During a strong El Nino, a weaker northern jet often keeps winters' temperatures quite mild.
While the northern jet will be weaker this winter than average, it may not be feeble enough to prevent a few blasts from the north.
Overall, look for below average temperatures and well above average precipitation from now through early spring.
Take Care,
Steve LaNore
Chief Meteorologist
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  • by Phil Location: Aubrey on Oct 26, 2009 at 07:52 PM
    Thanks for taking the time to explain this!
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