El Niño was officially declared back in February by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC).
When El Niño was called, the CPC noted in their February ENSO diagnostic discussion that it was weak.
El Niño Strengthens, Likely to Persist Though Summer
It has strengthened slightly since, as indicated by an overall increase in sea surface temperatures (SST) across the various ENSO regions.
Climate models indicate that El Niño is likely to continue through summer; chances are officially at ~ 60% (see figure 1).
However, there is still some uncertainty, as we have yet to get past the spring “predictability barrier.”
El Niño Still Weak
An El Niño is considered to be weak when SST anomalies range from 0.5 – 1 degrees (C) above-average.
For perspective, a strong El Niño has SST anomalies from 1.5 – 1.9 degrees (C). A very strong El Niño like the 2015 event has SST anomalies in excess of 2 degrees (C).
Considering this, the current El Niño is still on the weak end of the spectrum.
Impact on the Upcoming Atlantic Hurricane Season
With El Niño now likely to continue through summer, there will be an affect on this upcoming hurricane season; how much is not known.
Typically a warm ENSO event (El Niño) results in a less active Atlantic Hurricane Season in terms of numbers. This is because there is an increase in trade winds and sinking air in the Atlantic.
However, ENSO is just one indicator of seasonal hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
No Other Changes
There have been no other major changes in regard to El Niño.
Widespread global impacts remain unlikely due to the weak nature of the event.
This could change if El Niño strengthens in the coming months. But as of now, the consensus is for a gradual decrease in intensity rather than strengthening.