The Earth is currently experiencing the El Niño weather phenomenon. Normal global weather is undergoing an overhaul. Areas around the equator that are usually dry and cool are now wet and warm, and dryness is increasing in other regions. But does El Niño also affect the weather in the Netherlands?
The greatest impact of El Niño can be found in countries around the equator. One consequence of this is that it will become warmer and wetter along the American coast, and especially in Central America and Peru. In countries such as Zimbabwe and southern Madagascar, there are often severe droughts during El Niño. It will also be drier in Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia, because showers will move mainly over the Pacific Ocean.
In some countries, El Niño causes more forest fires. Image: Adobe Stock/toa555
Another consequence is that hurricane activity over the Atlantic Ocean is declining, but more hurricanes are forming over the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, Guam, Japan and Taiwan are more likely to experience natural disasters, while China and the Philippines are less prone to typhoons. This is because the water off the coast becomes less warm there.
Read more about what El Niño is and what the consequences of this natural phenomenon are here.
Floods are also a consequence of the El Niño phenomenon. Photo: Adobe Stock / Montreal
What does that mean for the Netherlands?
Changes in the weather around the equator certainly affect the weather further away from the equator. The remnants of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean often move from North America towards Europe and thus affect the weather in our country. This sometimes results in very windy autumn weather, when remnants travel across our country. Then sometimes a cold and changeable period begins.
If the remnants of the hurricane move towards Iceland or northern Scandinavia, a warm southerly current will most likely develop with us. And then we enjoy the late summer weather. With fewer tornadoes, we’ll also be dealing with less tornado tailings in our region in the fall. This may further tighten the westerly circulation in our country, resulting in changeable autumn weather with normal temperatures. In addition, there are less cold or warm periods.
However, the link between El Niño and weather in Europe is weak. Some trends can be inferred from the statistics. During El Niño, eastern Spain often becomes drier and warmer in the winter and spring. In southern England, northern France, the Benelux countries and Germany it will be wetter than average in spring.
rainy weather. Photo: Jolanda Packer
Wet Dutch Springs after El Niño
In the past, spring in the Netherlands has always been wetter than usual after an El Niño winter, and research by KNMI has shown this connection. After a strong El Niño in the winter of 1997-1998, we experienced a submerged wet geyser. The last and most powerful El Niño occurred in the winter of 2015-2016, followed by a slightly wet spring. There was 193mm against the normal 173mm. Not only was it spring, but the entire first half of 2016 was particularly wet. Only in 1998 was it a little wetter.
Also read: This is how La Niña affects the weather in the Netherlands
However, the vagaries of the Dutch weather are greater than the influence of El Niño. Perhaps this also relates to the strength of El Niño. For example, a very weak El Niño in the winter of 2019-2020 was followed by an exceptionally dry, sunny spring, Where there was a record-breaking deficit in precipitation. In the previous year, after a relatively weak El Niño, a normal amount of precipitation fell.
In short: The chance of a wet spring after an El Niño winter is greater than average, but that doesn’t mean the spring is necessarily wet. In addition, the amount of precipitation says nothing about the duration of the rains. Many people will experience a wet spring with heavy rain and plenty of sunshine in between as more pleasant than a gray and cold spring with often prolonged periods of rain.
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