This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 13, 2006

NOAA Warns of Strengthening El Niño Conditions

The United States is expected to feel the effects of a strengthening El Niño from January to March of 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). El Niño conditions are caused by a warming of the sea surface in the central and east-central parts of the Pacific, near the equator. During such events, the jet stream is stronger than normal across the southern United States. As a result, increased storminess and wetter-than-average conditions occur across the southern tier of the United States, from central and southern California across the Southwest to Texas and across the Gulf Coast to Florida and the Southeast. Meanwhile, drier-than-average conditions are experienced in the northern Rockies and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. An El Niño also lessens the probability of extremely cold days in the Northeast. NOAA's winter outlook, released in mid-November, predicts warmer-than-average temperatures in parts of Alaska, the north-central states, and the Northeast, which could decrease the need for heating fuels this winter. This winter's El Niño is expected to be weaker than the 1997 to 1998 event, which caused an increase in global average temperatures. See the NOAA press releases on the El Niño and the winter outlook.