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A very warm subsurface persists in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and some of that warmth is reaching the surface as oceanic warmth is just-short of the El Nino threshold. Steady development of a weak EL Nino is likely through late northern hemisphere summer.

Headline: Neutral ENSO now but El Nino is looming

Discussion: As the first third of July ends the subsurface anomalous warmth across the entire Pacific Ocean remains immense (Fig. 1).  Warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific is most robust and an indicator of an El Nino episode ahead. The expansive subsurface warmth indicates a large amount of potential energy to ignite El Nino and make any intra-seasonal tropical oscillation such as MJO stronger. At the surface, the Nino SSTA regions are warming but not yet to El Nino thresholds (Fig. 2). The reaction of the oceanic warming by the atmosphere also indicates a borderline weak El Nino climate is not far away (Fig. 3). The Climate Impact Company probabilistic ENSO phase forecast indicates an El Nino will emerge although intensity is uncertain (Fig. 4).

Fig. 1: The equatorial subsurface Pacific Ocean temperature anomaly profile.

Fig. 2: The Nino SSTA regions indicate a warming trend but not within El Nino thresholds yet.

Fig. 3: The reaction of the atmosphere to the East Pacific warming is measured by multi-variate ENSO index (MEI) and indicates weak El Nino is evolving.

Fig. 4: Climate Impact Company ENSO risk forecast.