El Niñote (a big niño)! / by Francisco Blaha

It has been in the news a lot, and we see it in fishing. The fish has moved East big time and the vessels have followed them... the usual Western transhipment ports look empty while the Eastern ones are in overload.

During August, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were near or greater than +2.0°C across the eastern half of the tropical Pacific (see figure above). Large positive subsurface temperature anomalies persisted in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific during the month, with the largest departures exceeding 6°C (see below).

The atmosphere remained coupled to the anomalous oceanic warmth, with significant low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies persisting from the western to east-central tropical Pacific. Also, the traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) were again negative, consistent with enhanced convection over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and suppressed convection over Indonesia (see below). Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic anomalies reflect a strong El Niño.

All models surveyed predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2016, and
all multi-model averages predict a peak in late fall/early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5°C or greater). The forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño, with peak 3-month SST departures in the Nino region near or exceeding +2.0°C. Overall, there is an
approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, gradually weakening through spring 2016.

Unfortunately, a strong "El Niño" does not affect only fishing in the western and central Pacific, but also the islands themselves, as the event will likely contribute to a above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and eastern Pacific hurricane basins.

All this info comes from the 10th September 2015 ENSO Alert System Status issued by NOAA's Climate Prediction Centre