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HOME > Expert Assessments > ENSO Diagnostic Discussion
issued by
October 9, 2003

Equatorial surface and subsurface temperatures were slightly warmer than average throughout most of the Pacific during September (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, respectively). Equatorial SST anomalies greater than +0.5°C (~1°F) persisted in the region west of the date line during September, and developed over most of the region between the date line and 120°W during the last half of the month (Fig. 3). This anomalous warming east of the date line was associated with a brief weakening of the easterlies that occurred during 19-25 September (Fig. 4). Generally, atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific have been near average in recent months, with no significant trends that would support large-scale anomalous warming or cooling of SSTs in that region. Thus, slightly warmer-than-average conditions are likely to persist for the next several months.

A majority of the statistical and coupled model forecasts indicate near neutral conditions (Niņo 3.4 SST anomalies between -0.5°C and +0.5°C) for the remainder of 2003 and early 2004. However, over the past few months there has been a trend in the suite of forecasts towards somewhat warmer conditions, consistent with observations. Thus, it is likely that slightly warmer-than-average conditions will persist in the equatorial Pacific through the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2003-04.

This discussion is a consolidated effort of NOAA and its funded institutions. Weekly updates for SST, 850-hPa wind, OLR and features of the equatorial subsurface temperature structure are available on the Climate Prediction Center web page at (Weekly Update). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niņo/La Niņa are updated monthly in CPC's Climate Diagnostics Bulletin Forecast Forum. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send your e-mail address to:

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Page last modified: July 10, 2003
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