Our long-range weather forecast for winter 2019/2020 is showing that El Niño is over.

The El Niño of last winter was a result of warmer surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific which influenced the weather across the world. The warmer sea temperatures created more precipitation, which in turn brought heavier snowfall to the Alps and North America. 

We've now officially transitioned from El Niño to an ENSO neutral phase which occurs when neither El Niño nor La Niña are in control. 

The neutral phase means water temperatures in the tropical Pacific have cooled from last winter when they were warmer than normal. The lack of a firm swing to either El Niño or La Niña this year, means the long-range weather forecast for winter 2019/20 is harder to predict.

Even though the global El Niño event has now ended, and we have entered an ENSO-neutral period, temperatures are still high due to human-induced climate change. As a result, sea surface temperatures are likely to be above average for the rest of 2019 - tipping predictions slightly more in favour of an El Niño than a La Niña occuring.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is predicting an unseasonably warm next three months (Sept, Oct, Nov) across the globe. But this shouldn't worry us too much as let's not forget the start of the 2018/19 ski season was warm and dry for much of Europe, then we saw huge snow dumps right before Christmas followed by a record-breaking January for many ski resorts across the Alps.

What's the chance of an El Niño for the 2019/20 ski season?

The WMO said last month, “Given current conditions and model outlooks, the chance of neutral conditions during September-November 2019 is estimated at about 60%, while chances for El Niño and La Niña are about 30% and 10%, respectively.”

“Although neutral conditions are most likely through the December-February 2019-2020 season, the chance for a return to El Niño rises slightly to 35%.”

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will continue to closely monitor changes in the state of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the coming months and we'll update you on our long-range weather forecast for 2019/2020.

For a more indepth explanation of the El Niño effect, watch this video from the Met Office: