The Western View: El Nino Returns with a Whimper

Taylor Hillman Drought, Features, Water, Weather, Western View

We finally got the long-awaited El Nino this year, but talk about a day late and a dollar short: This time it just isn’t going to live up to the hype at all.

El Nino 2015

With a good El Nino, we see rain in California, sometimes more than we need. It can also bring a warmer and drier winter to the northwest, and can cause major snowfall events in the northeastern United States. It usually means a cool and moist summer for much of the United States. But it has an even larger impact globally.

El Nino is a weather pattern caused by a warming period in the southern Pacific Ocean. The warmth is enough to heat the ocean west of South America by about one degree for at least three months. The heat changes the flow of the major currents in the Pacific. It also affects the atmosphere, and redirects or stops the south Pacific trade winds.

It affects agriculture with increased rainfall in the far western areas of North and South America. Sometimes it’s too much of a good thing, with severe flooding, especially in coastal Peru and Chile. When El Nino is strong, it will bring nutrient-poor water to the fisheries off the west coast of South America. This changes one of the biggest fisheries in the world, with some fish disappearing from the region, and other, less-desirable fish moving in.

However, this time, El Nino isn’t likely to do any of those things, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials. In fact, instead of bringing on a cooler and wetter summer than normal in the United States, the experts think just the opposite will happen. We may have an even hotter year than last year. Yes, 2014 was one of the hottest years ever, and NOAA experts think 2015 will be even worse.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View for Agnet West.