The latest El Nino outlook, issued last week, shows that we are currently in an El Nino and that it is likely to continue through spring before transitioning to neutral conditions. The forecasts give it a 71% chance of being a strong El Nino, but that does not necessarily translate to strong impacts. Having said that, however, in El Nino winters in the Southeast, we typically expect the jet stream to be parked over the region, especially in southern AL and GA and northern FL. This will lead to many cloudy days as the jet stream pushes along storm systems. That will result in cooler temperatures overall, mainly due to reductions in daytime temperatures rather than cold mornings. The storms will also bring ample rain to the region, which will help to recharge areas that have become dry lately. That will give us a good start to the 2024 growing season, although it could be wet in some areas. That would result in delays in getting out into the fields and could also mean a slower-than-usual warming of soil temperatures. The winter El Nino pattern could start early this year, so don’t delay in getting crops out of the field before they get too wet if you can.
You can find a more detailed description in the NOAA ENSO blog at https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/september-2023-enso-outlook-el-nino-convo. The latest CPC diagnostic discussion is at https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.pdf. For those of you in North Georgia and surrounding areas, you might also be interested in this discussion about the current ENSO situation and the winter outlook so far from retired meteorologist Kirk Mellish here.