Skip Navigation Links 
NOAA logo - Click to go to the NOAA home page National Weather Service   NWS logo - Click to go to the NWS home page
Climate Prediction Center

CPC Search
About Us
   Our Mission
   Who We Are

Contact Us
   CPC Information
   CPC Web Team

HOME > Expert Assessments > Climate Diagnostics Bulletin > Forecast Forum
Forecast Forum - February  2003

The canonical correlation analysis (CCA) forecast of SST in the central Pacific (Barnett et al. 1988, Science, 241, 192-196; Barnston and Ropelewski 1992, J. Climate, 5, 1316-1345), is shown in Figs. F1 and F2. This forecast is produced routinely by the Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center. The predictions from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) coupled ocean/atmosphere model (Ji et al. 1998, Mon. Wea. Rev, 126, 1022-1034) are presented in Figs. F3 and F4a, F4b.  Predictions from the Markov model (Xue, Y., A. Leetmaa, and M. Ji, 2000: ENSO prediction with Markov model: The impact of sea level. J. Climate, 13, 849-871) are shown in Figs. F5 and F6.   Predictions from the latest version of the LDEO model (Chen, D., M. A. Cane, S. E. Zebiak, Rafael Canizares and A. Kaplan, 2000, Geophys. Res. Let., 27, 2585-2587) are shown in Figs. F7 and F8. Predictions using linear inverse modeling (Penland and Magorian 1993, J. Climate, 6, 1067-1076) are shown in Figs. F9 and F10. Predictions from the Scripps / Max Planck Institute (MPI) hybrid coupled model (Barnett et al. 1993, J. Climate, 6, 1545-1566) are shown in Fig. F11.   Predictions from the ENSO-CLIPER statistical model (Knaff, J. A. and C. W. Landsea 1997, Wea. Forecasting, 12, 633-652) are shown in Fig. F12.

The CPC and the contributors to the Forecast Forum caution potential users of this predictive information that they can expect only modest skill.


Based on the recent evolution of conditions in the tropical Pacific and on the latest coupled model and statistical model forecasts, warm episode (El Niņo) conditions are expected to continue to weaken through March 2003, followed by a return to near-normal conditions during April-October 2003.


Warm episode (El Niņo) conditions continued to weaken during February 2003. Sea-surface temperature anomalies decreased throughout the central and eastern equatorial Pacific by as much as 1.5°C during the month (Figs. T5 and T9), while equatorial easterly winds were near normal throughout the region (Figs. T7 and T20). Since December there has also been a steady decrease in the magnitude and extent of the positive subsurface temperature anomalies, indicating a depletion of the excess warmth in the upper ocean of the equatorial Pacific (Figs. T15 and T17). This evolution is typical during the decay phase of warm episodes.

In spite of these trends, significant positive SST anomalies continued during February 2003 in the central equatorial Pacific, with anomalies greater than +1°C extending from 170°E to 150°W (Fig. T18). In addition, enhanced precipitation and cloudiness occurred over this region (Fig. T25) and some atmospheric circulation indices, such as the SOI, continued to reflect warm episode (El NiZo) conditions (Table T1).

Consistent with current conditions and recent observed trends, most coupled model and statistical model forecasts indicate that El Niņo conditions will continue to weaken through March 2003 (Figs. F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12). Thereafter, the consensus forecast is for near-normal conditions during April-October 2003. However, there is a wide spread amongst the individual forecasts, with some indicating the possibility of continued weak El Niņo conditions and others indicating the development of La Niņa conditions during the last half of 2003. All such models have relatively low skill during the transition phases of the ENSO cycle. The recent cooling of the upper ocean (surface and subsurface) in the eastern equatorial Pacific supports the possibility of the development of La Niņa later this year.

Weekly updates of SST, 850-hPa wind, OLR, and the equatorial subsurface temperature structure are available on the Climate Prediction Center homepage at: (Weekly Update).

NOAA/ National Weather Service
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
Climate Prediction Center
5200 Auth Road
Camp Springs, Maryland 20746
Climate Prediction Center Web Team
Page last modified: January 15, 2002
Disclaimer Privacy Notice