El Nino: What is the weather phenomenon?
A forecaster has outlined the chances of a heatwave striking in June, as weather models show the first signs of temperatures soaring this year. The Met Office has confirmed highs of up to 25C could hit parts of Wales, the West Midlands and the South West by the end of this week, making parts of Britain hotter than Morocco. With official meteorological summer due to begin on June 1, what’s in store for next month?
Meteorologist Jim Dale, from British Weather Services, believes that El Nino may be responsible for pushing the mercury close to the 30C mark during the first half of June, if it develops.
What is El Nino and will it happen this year?
El Nino is a weather phenomenon which occurs every few years and sees the warming of sea surface temperature, typically concentrated in the central-east equatorial Pacific, the Met Office says.
It adds: “An El Niño is declared when sea temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific rise 0.5C above the long-term average. El Niño is felt strongly in the tropical eastern Pacific with warmer than average weather.”
It has been poised to return in 2023 after three years of its cooler opponent, La Nina, and has potential to raise temperatures across the globe in the hotter months.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation, there is a 60 percent chance of the transition taking place between this month and July. But this increases to 70 percent between June and August, and up to 80 percent up to September.
If it does strike early, Mr Dale told Express.co.uk that El Nino could cause a “knock-on effect”, and if it does, June could deliver some baking heat.
He said: “Low pressure forces the air to come in from the south in which comes the 19C and 20C temperatures, which move up to 25C to 26C. And it looks like it may well happen, we may start to see something more continental – that’s all we are looking for.
“We need to see if El Nino kicks in, although we are not the main recipients. But we can fully expect some hazardous weather if El Nino gets going, we may see the knock-on effect.”
He added: “The next staging post is 25C and I think we will get to that in the next 10 days – the next one after that is 30C and we could see that in the first part of June.”
However, Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range forecasting at the Met Office, said in April that records may be broken in 2024, if El Nino occurs in December.
“The current record for global temperature occurred in 2016 and it’s no coincidence that followed the last big El Niño. If we get a big El Niño at the end of this year then, we’re likely to break the record for global temperature in 2024,” he said.
Along with raising temperatures, it can also drag temperatures down for northern Europe in winter, which could also see Britain freeze in the colder months.
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The Met Office outlook for June
Its long range outlook says: “By early June, high pressure is still expected to dominate, though with the possibility of showers developing in the south and possibly turning heavy at times. The north likely to see drier weather.
“Temperatures are expected be above normal for most, although cooler near windward coasts.”
Then up until June 20, it continues: “Spells of unsettled weather are possible in the south of England and Wales, with potentially thundery showers and more extended periods of rain.”
The outlook adds: “More settled and dry conditions for the north of UK. Expect light winds and stronger sea breezes along the coast. Temperatures likely to stay above average for the time of year, though eastern coastal areas may feel cooler due to the stronger onshore winds.”
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