weak el nino year possible for 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:20
Eric in mexico, pacific crossing, weather

I just spent the last hour combing through forecast models and am slightly bummed to find out that there is a better-than-zero chance of a weak El Nino event happening in the middle of 2014.

2/6/2014 - (Reuters) - U.S. weather forecaster Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said on Thursday there was an increasing chance of the El Nino weather pattern after expecting neutral conditions through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014.

That represented a change from the CPC's previous outlook of neutral conditions through summer 2014.

In its monthly report, the CPC maintained its outlook that El Nino was unlikely through the spring, but noted that a change in temperatures "portend warming in the coming months."

The good news about that is three fold:

1) It's possible that no El Nino conditions will happen at all.

2) If an El Nino does happen in 2014, it looks to be weak. 

3) If an El Nino does happen in 2014, it looks to happen in the summer time which although still not great for Pacific sailors at least leaves the big Americas->French Polynesia route relatively untouched. 

Reading through the NOAA forecasts you really a strong taste of all the phrases like "might", "could", "possibly", "waiting on data", "still being determined", etc. If you peel back the layers further you'll see that budget cuts to oceanographic warning systems have been chiefly responsible for the lack of finality in recent forecasts. 

Apparently the $3,000,000 USD needed to fix NOAA's buoys was simply not available. To put in context, that's the cost of two Tomahawk missiles. I don't think it's a reach to argue that knowledge of global weather patterns that affect crop production, transportation, and so much else might be slightly relevant than what two cruise missiles can accomplish. In 1998, damage from El Nino weather conditions caused over twenty five billion dollars in losses to the US economy. 

 

Update on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:41 by Registered CommenterEric

So what this means for us, knowing that the trade winds will (maybe) diminish in their power by mid summer, is that our hope to get out of Mexico sooner rather than later is still viable. We want to get out of here as soon as the northerly trades strengthen sufficiently. If we play our cards right by the time El Nino conditions really start to materialize, if they do at all, we'll be outbound from French Polynesia with the biggest stretches of water behind us.

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