ENSO 2015–16

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) 2015–16

Latin American and Caribbean Region

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is a naturally occurring phenomenon resulting from the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere in the Tropical Pacific that has important consequences for weather and climate across the globe. Although its frequency is quite irregular, El Niño occurs every two to seven years, typically lasting nine to 12 months. A recent update from the World Meteorological Organization (November 16, 2015) reports that El Niño will likely peak in the Northern hemisphere winter of 2015–16. Peak three-month average sea surface temperatures (SST) will exceed 2 degrees Celsius above normal in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean, making this year’s event among the three strongest since 1950.

El Niño significantly affects a number of South American countries. In the 1997-98 El Niño event, central Ecuador and Peru suffered 10 times the normal rainfall which caused flooding, extensive erosion and mudslides with loss of lives destruction of homes and infrastructure, damage to food supplies. In Peru about 10% of the health facilities were damaged. National meteorological services throughout the region have been very active in advising governments on preparedness measures to try to limit damages from this year’s El Niño.

Consistent with typical El Niño impacts, large areas of Central America and the Caribbean recorded below average rainfall this year. Brazil, which started the year in drought in southern and eastern areas, saw the focus of the drought shift north with scant rainfall during the dry season over the Amazon. Peru was affected by heavy rain and flooding, as was Argentina (WMO, Press Release 13, November 25, 2015).

For the complete update, please click on the link below.