The 1997 El Niño: Potential effects in Massachusetts - November 1997 to April 1998

Climate Prediction Center (CPC), NWS/NOAA

Updated 17 November 1997

We are currently in the midst of a strong El Niño (warm) episode, which is forecast to continue through February-April 1998. During this period the tropical ocean surface temperatures are forecast to remain comparable in magnitude and areal extent to that of 1982-83, which is considered to be the strongest warm episode of this century. In contrast to the 1982-83 El Niño, which caught the country by surprise, the present El Niño was predicted several months in advance. This improvement in climate prediction is the direct result of intensive research efforts by NOAA and its partners during the last 15 years. Part of this research effort, which is still ongoing, has been devoted to determining the effects of El Niño on temperature and precipitation patterns in the U. S. and globally. Some results of this research for your state are discussed below.

The information on state impacts is derived by looking at what has happened in those years during the past century that featured moderate to strong El Niño episodes. Although El Niño may have an impact on Massachusetts, historically there has not been a consistent response. Included are U.S.-wide maps of average precipitation rankings during El Niño episodes for the November-December and January-March periods and U.S.-wide maps of average temperature rankings during El Niño episodes for the December-February and February-April periods. El Niño impacts vary with season.