As countries accustomed to cold, snowy winters reported record-breaking warm weather this season, meteorological experts on Monday predicted that temperatures over the next several months will also be warmer than usual—even without the effects of El Niño.
In its El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) update, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the naturally-occurring El Niño phenomenon has only a 20 to 35% chance of taking place between March and August 2020. Warm weather mirroring El Niño's effects, however, is 55 to 60% likely over that same time period.
Above average temperatures are expected in many parts of the globe in the next few months, even without the presence of a warming #ENiño, according to new WMO Update.
Details https://t.co/5Le2Uylq6y pic.twitter.com/SpVskhCxsE
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) March 2, 2020
"Even ENSO neutral months are warmer than in the past, as air and sea surface temperatures and ocean heat have increased due to climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. "The signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as that from a major natural force of nature."
El Niño, which involves changes in Pacific Ocean surface temperatures and in the "overlying atmospheric circulation," as the WMO wrote, is associated with drought, rain, and other weather events associated with warmer temperatures.
Even without the phenomenon, above-average sea surface temperatures are expected in both tropical and non-tropical regions in the next several months, which will lead to unusually warm weather on land as well.
The WMO report came as officials from around the world reported that cities and countries in a number of regions are experiencing unusually warm winters.
Moscow has had its warmest winter season in 200 years of record-keeping, with an average temperature of 32.3 degrees Fahrenheit—the first winter the city has experienced with an average temperature above freezing. Data is still being recorded throughout Russia, the Washington Post reported, and the entire country may have set a warm-weather record this winter.
Japan and France have also recorded their warmest winters.
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A number of cities accustomed to snowy winters saw little to no snowfall this year; Helsinki, Finland recorded a total accumulation of 0.2 centimeters all winter, with no snow in January and February. In the U.S., Washington D.C. recorded less than an inch of snow this winter, compared to its average snowfall of more than 15 inches. New York City also recorded its second-least snowy winter ever.
On social media, climate experts recorded a number of unusually warm winters around the world, with the Post's Capital Weather Gang calling some of the records "astonishing."
Some astonishing warm winter records coming in:
* Moscow's first winter to avg. above freezing for the months of Dec, Jan, Feb.
* Snowless in Helsinki for the first time in Jan & Feb. Just 0.2 cm snow for the entire winter there.
* France's warmest winter on record.
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) March 2, 2020
For the first time in 200 years of record-keeping, the temperature in Moscow averaged above 32F for the winter.
In Finland, no snow in Jan/Feb
In Germany, ice-wine harvest failed because no ice https://t.co/tiU7F3xODH
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) March 2, 2020
This year’s winter in Stockholm is the warmest one on record since daily weather observations began in 1756.
The Bolin Centre for Climate Research database presents live temperature data through new interactive graphics.https://t.co/t71j5MXvWW
Photo: Mostphotos/Gamma-Man pic.twitter.com/ghs0UWaVvj
— Bolin Centre for Climate Research (@BolinCentre) March 2, 2020
"With more than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases going into the ocean, ocean heat content is at record levels," said Taalas. "Thus, 2016 was the warmest year on record as a result of a combination of a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming. 2019 was the second warmest year on record, even though there was no strong El Niño. We just had the warmest January on record."