Climate Central, By Andrea Thompson, August 13
“We’re predicting that this El Niño could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950,” Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said during a press teleconference.
Whether this is good news or bad news depends on where you are: For Californians, the prospect of a top-tier El Niño boosts the hopes for a wetter-than-average winter, which is desperately needed after four years of record-setting drought. For the Pacific Northwest, also mired in drought, El Niño usually means drier weather, though it could still be an improvement on last year.
El Niño is a cyclical climate phenomenon rooted in the tropical Pacific that features a buildup of warmer-than-normal waters in the central and eastern portions of the basin. Over the last few months, those waters have been steadily heating up. In July, temperatures in a key region were more than 2°F above average, a departure that comes in second only to the blockbuster El Niño of 1997-1998, the event by which all other El Niños are judged.
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