NOAA’s Climate prediction centre announce a 75% chance of an El Nino winter this year and whilst it is not expected to be the strongest ever seen it will still effect the weather we see.
In summary El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), stretching along the equator across the Pacific Ocean. It is known to trigger intense weather patterns across the world.
Typically El nino winters will lead to colder weather towards the Gulf states of the U.S whilst being milder than usual in the North West of the country. Higher than usual precipitation can tend to give way to potentially record breaking snowfalls later in the season.
For the UK and the North West of Europe El Nino winters tend to be colder than average which will of course increase the likelihood of snowfall events. Whilst individual snowfall events look likely this winter they will almost certainly be interspersed between milder spells due to the temperate climate of the UK. So those hoping them headlines of ‘4 months of crippling snow’ would be true are likely to be dissapointed.
Other factors to consider for the UK also point to a colder winter:
At present the current solar cycle is the 24th. Solar cycle 24 is currently on pace to be the weakest sunspot cycle with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 in February 1906.
2018 is also running close to the lowest sea ice extent in the Arctic ever for this time of year. This increase in fresh water has been linked with a slow down in the Gulf stream and an increase in Northern Latitude blocking.