An El Niño is Upon Us! But What Does That Mean?
Remember that El Niño that experts were predicting? Well, it's finally here, but the NOAA is warning that that might not mean more rain for America's thirsty southwest coast, despite traditional weather patterning.
El Niño southern oscillations (ENSO) are largely characterized by north-eastward shifts of warm water across the globe, with water often harmful to tropical corals gradually shifting away from Australia's northern coast and towards the Americas, affecting even the United States' southwest coastline.
And while this natural weather pattern often brings more rain with it, Californians suffering from the worst drought the region has seen in a millennium may still not see relief, warns the NOAA.
"At this time, these are extremely weak El Niño conditions, during a time of year when the influence of El Niño on weather patterns in North America or other locations outside of the Tropics is weakening," the agency's Emily Becker reported during their official announcement of El Niño conditions.
"Historical precipitation patterns associated with El Niño show that only about 3 of the past 10 El Niño years exhibited above-average rainfall in California during March-April-May (map pair below)," she added. "Another way of looking at the historical relationships shows that ENSO has very little correlation to precipitation over North America during the spring."
The agency also implied that the harbingers of the event have actually had more of an impact on North America than the El Niño may, as localized rain anomalies during the early winter helped contribute to - and potentially prolong - a massive nor'easter along the US coastline.
Still, past reports have revealed that El Niños are often quickly followed by La Niña events - characterized by a cooling of water in the tropical Pacific. This change can drive a great number of unpredictable extreme weather events around the world as it alters the direction and temperatures of ocean currents.
And to top things off, shifts in atmospheric winds and ocean currents have become far less predictable in the wake of climate change conditions - both natural and man-made.
Last July, the World Meteorological Organization even made a move to start updating their definition of "normal weather" more frequently, as they expect weather conditions to continue to radically change in ways rarely seen before.
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