Stuff I wrote elsewhere: El Niño and the carnival barker

I’ve tried lots of different things to try to communicate the inherent uncertainties (at all time scales) in the forecast business. Here’s another stab at the problem:

I feel a little like a cheap carnival barker foretelling you this, but FYI, it looks like El Niño is coming.

New Mexico water managers, grappling with their fourth straight year of drought, have a tired look in their eyes. Mention El Niño and you’ll see a spark of life. That is because the Pacific climate pattern with the lyrical name is associated with wetter weather.

Step right up folks, come see the Amazing El Niño, bringer of moisture to the parched state of New Mexico! You’ll thrill to its crashing thunderstorms, its snowpacked mountains and brimming rivers!

But you saw what I did there, right? “Is associated with wetter weather.” Already with the weasel words. The carnival barker in me is excited, but the cautious journalist in me has been talking with cautious scientists. El Niño comes with no guarantees.