A large mass of anomalously cool water in the Equatorial Pacific (image of sea surface temperature anomalies on 20 August 1998 courtesy of Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center)

 The 1997-98
El Niño/
Southern Oscillation 
(ENSO 97-98)

- one of the most severe 
ENSO events in history? 

  Compiled by Dr. David Duffy and Dr. Peter J. Bryant
SYNOPSIS: 14 JUNE - 20 AUGUST 1998  

As El Niño continues to fade, it is not clear whether events such as southern U.S. droughts and heavy monsoons in Asia are ENSO-related. Flooding in China has been identified as associated with ENSO.  The dengue outbreak continues over most of the western Pacific and Asia. Effects reported here of the drought in the southern U.S., the warm winters in the northeastern U.S., and the warm waters in Alaska and British Columbia may reverberate through ecosystems and local economies for years. 
A tongue of cold water in the eastern Pacific ocean may signal the onset of an occurrence of La Niña, the cold-water version of El Niño.  Previous Niña events have been scarcer than ENSOs and we have much less idea of their characteristics or of whether what we are seeing now is Niña or Niño. 

Broken Records  (please send us more!)

Guam, December 16, 1997. Maximum surface wind velocity: 236 MPH by Supertyphoon Paka at Andersen Air Force Base (previous record 231 MPH on Mount Washington). 
BUT: This record contested! 

January and February 1998: Warmest national average temperature, continental U.S. : 37.5oF (normal 32.1oF, previous record 37.0oF in 1990).  Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, March 10, 1998. 

January and February 1998: Highest rainfall, continental U.S. : 6.01 inches (normal 4.05 inches, previous record 5.7 inches in 1979).  Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, March 10, 1998. 

Alaska, February 27, 1998: Early first singing of Varied Thrush and first hooting of Blue Grouse. 

March 29, 1998  Washington, D.C. (Dulles Airport), : Record High Temperature (86oF).  

March 30, 1998: Record High Temperatures in Atlantic City, N.J., Philadephia, PA, New York City, N.Y., Wilmington, DE (86oF) and Baltimore-Washington International Airport  (89oF). 

World Meteorological Organization, March 31, 1998: The Northern Hemisphere had its warmest February since 1950 

April 3, 1998: Record High Temperature (105oF) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 

April 9, 1998: Deadliest Tornado Season in 14 years, U.S. 

May 9, 1998: Record High Temperature (33.9oC) Mexico City, Mexico 

June 8, 1998: Record World High Temperature: 1.76 degrees above the average of 61.7 degrees (1961 to 1990) 

June 8, 1998: Warmest Spring on record, Canada 

June 13, 1998: Wettest day on record, Boston, Mass., and Providence, R.I

June 15, 1998: Earliest onset of monsoons in 97 years, India 

June 17, 1998: Warmest summer in 60 years, New Zealand 

July 2, 1998: Most officer fatalities by drowning, U.S.

July 5, 1998: Warmest first half of a year since records began, Detroit, MI

July 7, 1998: Warmest first half of a year since records began, global 

July 8, 1998:  Warmest January through June period since climate records were first kept in 1895, 12 Northeast U.S. states. 45.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 4.1 degrees warmer than the normal 41.2 degrees 

This electronic mailing is intended to provide near real-time reports primarily on marine and terrestrial events that may be linked to the development of the 1997-98 El Niño/Southern Oscillation which appears to be unfolding as one of the most severe ENSO events in history. Emphasis is on seabirds and changes to marine ecosystems, but we appreciate other reports that may expand our understanding of effects. These might include rainfall, flooding, or associated disease outbreaks. We will try to be inclusive and let hindsight separate ENSO from other events. Reports are issued as needed.

The scientific community was not aware of the last big ENSO event in 1982 until it was well underway. This one was forecast in January 1997, so we are watching it develop from a far earlier stage than has been previously possible. Some of the reports may report events that will in retrospect turn out to be coincidence, having nothing to do with ENSO at all. Others may be previously unrecognized precursors. The reports are often second hand or casual, edited out of other messages. Please check with the original author before using the data.


Although we summarize wire and news reports, the strength of this bulletin is direct participation from around the world. Good observations by anyone are welcomed. Please send additional reports, corrections, or comments to:

David C. Duffy
Alaska Natural Heritage Program
University of Alaska
Tel 907-257-2784
Fax 907-257-2789
Email afdcd1@uaa.alaska.edu
Or use the Response form


Alaska  British Columbia  Idaho   Canada    
Pacific Ocean / Hawaii Washington  Nevada / Utah Midwest / Great Lakes Northeast U.S.    Europe
California / Arizona  Oregon    Colorado      Middle East 
Russia / Mongolia / Tibet / China / Korea / Japan Mexico New Mexico  Texas Southeast U.S. Florida  North Atlantic Ocean
India, Indian Ocean, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Micronesia, Indonesia, PNG  Central America Colombia / Ecuador / Galapagos Venezuela / Guyana   Caribbean   
    Peru  Bolivia Brazil    Africa and Madagascar
Australia / New Zealand / Fiji / Tonga / New Caledonia / Samoa   Chile Argentina, Uruguay, Malvinas Antarctic     

 Text file containing new observations posted 20 August 1998 - for searching and/or downloading

Text file containing all of the above observations - for searching and/or downloading

Books on El nino, Biodiversity and Conservation

NOAA climatological data 
The NOAA Climate Diagnostics Center 
NOAA advisories: CPC El Niño/Southern Oscillation Main Page 
El Niño: Preparing for the Worst 
1997 News Items 
January 12, 1998: Was 1997 the warmest year in history? 
January in Africa: "It's virus soup out there" 
January 14, 1998: ENSO Insurance available 
January 21, 1998: Cooling trend in the troposphere 
January 30, 1998: ENSO predictions 
February 1998: Marine die-offs in New Zealand 
February 10, 1998: WORLD: AGRICULTURE (COCOA) 
February 12, 1998: US: CLIMATE (FORECAST) 
February 12, 1998: World cost of the current ENSO event may reach $10 billion 
February 24, 1998: Oceanography of El nino 
February 27, 1998: Did El Nino Cause The French Revolution, the Irish Potato Famine, and the Black Death? 
February 27, 1998: Bumper crops of pollen and mold on the way 
March 5, 1998: Lowered home energy needs in U.S. 
March 11, 1998: What do Monica Lewinsky and El Nino have in common? 
March 12, 1998: Predictions of epidemics 
March 19, 1998: Weather forecast 
March 23, 1998: Return on NOAA research 
March 26, 1998: El Nino slows Earth's rotation 
April 4, 1998: Economic Impact (USA) 
April 8, 1998: Special NOAA Report on El Nino 
May 1, 1998: Effects on duck hunting 
May 12, 1998: U.S. Weather Forecast 
May 15, 1998: World Health Effects - Summary and Predictions 
June 5, 1998: ENSO's trigger? 
June 9, 1998: El Niño's decline 
July 15-17, 1998. The National Center for Atmospheric Research will host the first summit on "La Niña" 
SST Anomaly Coral Bleaching Hotspots 
June 25, 1998: La Niña forecast from NOAA
July 3, 1998: 29 cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in the U.S.
Region-specific El Niño sites

Pacific Northwest 


Pacific Atlas 

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