WATCH: Some climatologists say 2015 could be in for a double El Niño year. Ted Chernecki reports on what that could mean for us.
A rare “double El Niño” could be upon us, bringing record high temperatures with it.
El Niño is the equatorial body of warm water that oscillates between South America and Australasia, influencing weather patterns worldwide. A double El Niño occurs when warm water gathers in the ocean two years in a row.
This year’s event appears to have stalled in the mid-Pacific and is believed to be largely responsible for a series of typhoons to hit Hawaii and the South Pacific, yet leaving the B.C. coast with a storm-reduced winter and warm weather.
“What developed was sort of an almost Niño,” says Simon Donner, a climate scientist in UBC’s Department of Geography. “It didn’t quite develop as much as expected coming into December.”
“I wouldn’t call what’s happening now a double El Niño, because last year was sort of marginal to be considered an El Niño event. I would call it an interesting, weaker variation of El Niño.”
Public Radio International is quoting climatologists who say we could be seeing the beginning of a double El Niño as the one that stalled is re-intensifying. Others say it’s too son to tell.
“It’s way too early for anybody to actually suggest that an El Niño is in the cards for the following year,” says Andrew Weaver, a Green Party MLA and climatologist. “There’s something called a Spring Predictability Barrier. We’re not through that barrier yet.”
It will be several more months before we know for sure if we’re in for an even warmer winter next year. What they do know is that just about the whole North Pacific is on average about 3-degrees Celsius above normal temperatures. Since records have been kept, the Pacific has never been this warm this long.
Warm temperatures have also led to a dismal ski season.
“I’ve been in the industry for 18 years and I have not seen a season like this,” says Jonathan Mosley with Mt. Seymour.
Some in the industry are hopeful next ski season will be spectacular. Donner, however, has some doubts.
“The planet is warming,” says Donner. “By the second half of this century, winters with this little snow–with most of the precipitation falling as rain–that’s going to be the norm.”
-with files from Ted Chernecki and Elaine Yong