El Niño, author of wet winter, still affecting Texas weather

Mar 31, 2016

It’s storm season in Texas, and while last night’s storms didn’t do much damage in our part of the state, people are understandably anxious about April and May.  What we’ve seen so far is in part due to the El Nino pattern that gave us such a mild winter, with above average precipitation.

Audio Transcript

Rob Carroll: The big thing that's going to continue to drive the weather over the next several weeks is going to be the El Nino. We've already had several bouts of severe weather that have been due, to some degree, due to the El Nino.

Mark Haslett: Meteorologist Rob Carroll is with Hometown Forecast Services. He’s one of the voices that you hear sometimes on KETR. Carroll says that the El Nino, which is a set of weather patterns that happen as a result of warm water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is still influencing North America.

Carroll:What it does is it energizes the jet stream, especially the southern jet stream, a little bit more than normal. The El Nino is forecast to fade out by the beginning of the summer, but it's actually been able to hang on a little bit longer than folks were thinking back in the winter months. It certainly was responsible for some very violent weather northeast of the area yesterday afternoon and to the east overnight. We had some big thunderstorms and tornadoes outside of Tulsa. Some very heavy activity in  Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama this morning. That storm's pulling away. We're going to see a couple more of those type events, where storms develop into Southern Plains and then track on either up through the Great Lakes or into the Northeastern United States. In fact, a lot of the computer models are already suggesting that by the middle of next week, we'll be seeing one of these systems. And I think that's going to be the case through April. Usually you have a very energetic pattern in April when you have El Ninos, because of all this extra energy that's running around. By the time you get into May, the warmth of the sun really starts to erode the ability of the El Nino to produce those big blockbuster lows that, in turn, produce all the turning in the atmosphere that you  need to generate squall lines and tornadoes.

Haslett: Carroll says that not all of the precipitation associated with El Nino patterns is necessarily part of a dangerous weather system. In some cases, it’s just rain. As for whether the current El Nino event will transition into the summertime peacefully or violently – it’s pretty hard to guess right now.   

Carroll: Well, usually what it does is we start to see a shift later in April and into the month of May, where the El Nino as it weakens it has the tendency to keep the northeastern part of the country and the Great Lakes coolest. In fact, the latest forecasts for the next 8-14 days suggests that warmer than normal temperatures will stretch from the Mississippi River Valley all the way back to the west coast, while the eastern part of the country, from the western Great Lakes through the Ohio River Valley in the Northeast, will see temperatures well below normal. In fact, portions of the northeast by Monday will see an arctic intrusion, air actually coming off the North Pole, through their area, but in regards to arctic intrusions or below normal temperatures, at least through the first three weeks in April, that looks like it’s going to be mainly well north and east of us, again concentrated across the Great Lakes and northeast. The big question is when do we get rid of these storm systems that are going to be producing tornadoes? I do know that the warm-up in the western United States at some point is going to have to spread across the country. Even though we may see a very active April, it may have the tendency to suggest that May will have below normal activity in regards to severe weather.