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Limping El Niño Offers Little Hope for Drought Relief

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — El Niño, the Pacific-driven climate pattern that seemed to offer New Mexico some hope of drought relief in the coming winter, continues to sputter. The latest monthly federal forecast, out this morning (Thurs. 10/4/12), concludes that we may not get one at all. And if we do, it’s likely to be less than robust:

Due to the recent slowdown in the development of El Niño, it is not clear whether a fully coupled El Niño will emerge. The majority of models indicate that borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions will continue, and about half suggest that El Niño could develop, but remain weak…. The official forecast therefore favors the continuation of borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, with the possibility of strengthening during the next few months.

What does that mean here? The forecasters have already incorporated the limping El Niño into their latest outlooks, which I wrote about two weeks ago, so today’s outlook update, while grim, is not exactly news:

A New Mexico drought that is already by one measure the worst since the 1950s is not likely to relinquish its grip on the state until at least December, according to a new federal forecast.

Water managers had hopes for El Niño, a climate pattern that tips the odds toward wetter weather in the Southwest. But El Niño has been slow in arriving, said Dave Miskus with the federal Climate Prediction Center in Maryland.

“It hasn’t developed as quickly as they thought it would,” Miskus said in a telephone interview.

Here’s the map:


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