pacificssha_js2_2015277The word is already out about the growing El Nino that could rival the 1997 event, or possibly be stronger. What will it really mean for our winter in the eastern US? In short, the past snowfall in similar years has lead us to believe we could have a ton or almost none. That all or nothing outlook is as helpful as flipping a coin. However, it is only one ingredient for our winter weather pattern in the Eastern US. There are many others, one of which is showing up on this image: a strong PDO. That Pacific Decadal Oscillation is another region of warm water that can redirect weather patterns. I will elaborate on that in my next El Nino post. What I am going to show here is that is one other ingredient (just for fun) that I found in the correlation. Listen up if you are a baseball fan. This could give insight into the future of the Baltimore Orioles.

Making long range predictions relies in part on a historical connection or analog years. The knowledge of El Nino is little more than 100 years old, and true research only dates back a few decades. But finding a connection to past events and how those winters transpired is a big part of what you may have read so far. What I am going to show will make Baltimore Orioles fans wish for a lot snow. Correlation is not causation, but what I found needs to be shared.

I also want to point out that I realize this is a article on my website, not a masters thesis or doctorate dissertation. I love stats and charts, but I also want as many possible to read through my entire articles without giving up or getting distracted. So with that said, this will be the moderately quick version.


First: What is El Nino?

It is not Chris Farley, but I am compelled to show this


ElNinoOct17El Nino actually is a warming of a large portion of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Instead of cool upwelling in this region, the currents and trade winds break down and warmer water builds up.

The results:

  • Warmer Pacific water leads to increase hurricane activity and intensity in the Pacific. We’ve already seen that.
  • Increased storm action that can pump moisture aloft into the western and southern US. We’ve already seen that and there are hope of drought relief in parts of California.
  • Reversal of tropical easterlies to westerly winds. This flow aloft can reach the Atlantic and cut off the development of tropical systems there. We’ve already seen that as well.

El Nino On Par With Strongest On Record



Winter In The US:

The pumping of Pacific air into the US often leads to a stormy pattern. What is uncertain is how stormy and what type of storms. More moisture can mean more snow, if there is enough cold air supplied. But should the Pacific jet stream take over, then it can overwhelm the US with warm air, making for more rain events. This standard El Nino winter weather pattern map looks a lot like the NOAA outlook this winter.


Since this is already a strong El Nino, I will only be comparing to the four most recent strong El Nino’s.  Looking back historically we can compare many El Nino Winters and see big snow results. But we can also see plenty of low snow winters. For simplicity, I will be comparing snow history for Baltimore, MD. Our region often sits on the edge and can behave like a northeast snow belt or southern belle. Here is a comparison of the last four ‘strong’ El Ninos and the related snowfall that season. OSI is the Oscillation Southern Index, a measurement for the anomaly of water temperature and height above normal. J-A-S is the 3 month reading for July – August – September.




Disclaimer: I am not are ignoring other factors such as Atlantic Oscillation and Siberian and Canadian fall snowpack. Basically we need a blocking pattern in the North Atlantic to bottle up the arctic air and force it down south along the Eastern US. I will include the NAO or North Atlantic Oscillation and other factors in my Winter 2015-16 outlook soon.

The Orioles Post Season Baseball Connection

This is where is gets fun, if you are a local baseball fan. Looking at these El Nino years, I realized they all included the Orioles in the post season.  But only two of them they won the World Series! However, those were also years the snowfall at BWI was about 75% above normal.


  • 1966 World Series Win over the Dodgers- After an above normal snowy winter
  • 1983 World Series Win over the Phillies- After an above normal snowy winter

Both World Series wins occurred in the baseball season AFTER the El Nino that brought snow well above Baltimore’s normal of 20″-22″.  The other two years the Os made the playoffs, but…

  • 1973 they lost to the A’s  – AFTER the El Nino winter that was the second lowest snow
  • 1997 they lost to the Indians – BEFORE the El Nino winter that brought the 3rd lowest snowfall.

Since the Orioles did not make the post season this year (2015), they must make it next year to fit the pattern. If they do, will this winter’s snowfall correlate to their success? In short, if you want the Orioles to win the World Series next year, root for a snowy winter! Faith in the Flakes*

Sorry- I’ve got nothing for the Ravens.  Then again, I’m not sure anything would help at this point.

I should point out that ‘correlation is not causation’. That is a standard scientific and mathematical mantra. There is not necessarily a connection between El Nino and winter snow to baseball. Even in Baltimore.  But if I am right, perhaps Fan Duel or Draft Kings will start advertising on my web site? Just a thought.

Next I will expand on El Nino and a few other elements building up to my winter outlook.

Related Winter and El Nino Stories:

NOAA Winter Outlook

El Nino 2015 Too Big To Fail

El Nino 2015 compared to strongest on record

El Nino Growing Stronger: Could Last Through Winter 2016

California Mudslide on I-5 Video Coverage


Please share your thoughts, best weather pics/video, or just keep in touch via social media

Chip KidWxDevicesGet the award winning Kid Weather App I made with my oldest son and support our love for science, weather, and technology. Our 3 year anniversary of the release and our contribution to STEM education is this November. It has been downloaded in 60 countries, and works in both temperature scales. With your support we can expand on the fun introduction to science and real weather.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]