El Niño & La Niña Years:
A Consensus List
Jan Null, CCM
Discontinued December 2007

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The page is no longer being updated. Please go to http://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm  (01/08)

El Niño and  La Niña events are classified by a number of different criteria.  Some classification systems use the strength and sign of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), while others use Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies for a variety of Pacific regions.  Still others use a combination of several criteria to gauge the type and strength of the event.  Consequently there are number of different lists which are actively used.  Four of the most widely used lists are:

Western Region Climate Center at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/enso/ensodef.html
Climate Diagnostics Center at http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/people/cathy.smith/best/
Climate Prediction Center at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.html
Multivariate ENSO Index from Climate Diagnostics Center at: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/ENSO/enso.mei_index.html

An event consensus was arrived at by choosing years which appeared on three of the four above lists.  It should be noted that there is obviously some crossover of the variables used in the various methodologies and no attempt has been made to give a weight of one list over another.   When WRCC, CPC and MEI all indicated W+ and CDC gave a W (their strongest category) then that season was considered a strong event.  Otherwise the strength was determined from the "average" of the strength of chosen events.  The resultant data is expressed in Table 1 (below).


Table 1.  Consensus List of El Niño and La Niña Years

Winter WRCC CDC CPC MEI Consensus
1950-51 C+ C C C La Niña
1951-52 W+   W-    
1953-54 W    W-  


1954-55     C C-


1955-56 C+   C+ C Strong La Niña
1956-57 C   C- C- Weak La Niña
1957-58 W W W+ W El Niño
1958-59     W+  W-


1961-62       C-  
1962-63       C-  
1963-64 W   W-    
1964-65 C   C C- La Niña
1965-66 W+ W W W El Niño
1966-67       C-  
1967-68       C-  
1968-69     W W-   
1969-70 W   W    
1970-71 C   C C La Niña
1971-72 C   C- C- Weak La Niña
1972-73 W+ W W+ W Strong El Niño
1973-74 C+ C C+ C+ Strong La Niña
1974-75 C   C- C- Weak La Niña
1975-76 C+ C C+ C Strong La Niña
1976-77 W   W-    
1977-78 W+   W- W- El Niño
1979-80      W- W-  
1982-83 W+ W W+ W+ Strong El Niño
1983-84     C-    
1984-85     C-  C-  
1986-87     W W  
1987-88 W+ W- W W- El Niño
1988-89 C+ C- C+ C Strong La Niña
1990-91     W+    
1991-92 W W W+ W+ Strong El Niño
1992-93 W   W+ W- El Niño
1993-94 W+   W    
1994-95 W+   W W- El Niño
1995-96     C-  C-  
1997-98 W+ W W+ W+ Strong El Niño
1998-99 C+   C C- La Niña
1999-00     C C  
2000-01 C C C- C- La Niña
2002-03 W W W W El Niño

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