El Nino Winters

What El Nino usually means for us:

A stormy pattern across the southern US that can turn into Nor’easters for us.

El Nino is when warm water in the tropical Pacific moves east and shifts the jet stream over North America. This happens every 3 to 7 years. The rest of that water gyre is called the Southern Oscillation. La Nina is when cool water upwelling resumes in the eastern Pacific, and the warmer water is pushed farther west.

How is El Nino measured and determined?

Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) Anomalies. Basically, where the ocean water is warmer or colder than normal. This is done through numerous remote buoys satellites. The region of above normal temperatures can expand across the tropical Pacific from Central and South America.

Video: El Nino and La Nina Explained

From NOAA’s National Ocean Service

Winter Snow From El Nino

For argument sake, I use Baltimore as a central location for our region.

As I wrote recently: If you want snow during an El Nino year, you would want to root on a MODERATE El Nino. That historically has been our best chance to get well above normal snow. The average in those years is 35 inches compared to the ‘normal’ 20.1 inches.  *Normal is not the best scientific term, but is what NWS uses.

First, what is El Nino?

No, it’s not Chris Farley. But if I didn’t show it I would be letting many down.

Simply put, El Nino is a build up of warm water in the tropical Pacific that shifts to the eastern part of the ocean every 3 to 7 years. The net result shifts where many storm form, upper level winds, and the resulting storm pattern in the US during the winter.

All Winter Weather Resource Pages

Maryland Winter Intro

1_Local Weather Coverage Map


NOAA Winter Weather Maps


NWS Snow & Ice Forecasts


Global Patterns

Polar Vortex



Winter Storm Types

See the 4 Major Snow Storm Types


State Snow Maps

Average Seasonal Snow Maps For MD, PA, & VA


Winter Precipitation

Types of Precipitation and Definitions 


Snow Cams

Western Maryland Live Cams


Snow Totals

See snow totals so far this season


Wind Chill Chart And Calculators


Baltimore Snow History


Low Snow Winters


El Nino Winters


La Nina Winters


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