March 6, 2014 - The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center has issued an El Niño watch, which means an El Niño may develop this summer or fall. El Niño brings warmer than average ocean surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific, which affects the jet stream across North America. Because the jet stream controls storm patterns, this can determine if an area will be drier or wetter than average.
Although El Niño has the most notable effects during the winter season, it also affects weather patterns during the summer. Past research shows that the high plains, including the Black Hills area, tends to be wetter than average from April to October of an El Niño year. Not all El Niños produce this pattern, but there is an enhanced chance of wetter weather across the Black Hills area if an El Niño occurs. Sometimes the wet weather doesn't develop until mid summer, which may happen this year as El Niño may develop slowly. The increased moisture and storminess would reduce the likelihood of substantial drought across the area this year.
Temperatures during an El Niño tend to be near to slightly below average across the high plains. The later summer and early fall would be the most likely time to see below-average temperatures if El Niño develops.