November 19, 2015
For a name that literally translates to “the child,” El Nino certainly likes to misbehave and throw temper tantrums. This climate pattern, which came to California during the ’96-’97 winter season, is back and preparing to unleash more havoc. Already the stormy weather created by El Nino has caused car crashes across the state. Now, experts are predicting more storms as well as a freezing winter. Here’s everything you need to know about this tempestuous little child.
Every few years, El Nino is born again in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The water near the equator warms to the point it creates the El Nino climate pattern that then makes its way north, carrying moisture across California and the Gulf States, which in turn leads to stormy weather. It also leads to colder temperatures, which brings both positives and negatives.
California’s history with El Nino
In years past, California and El Nino have had a complicated relationship. On the one hand, El Nino brings rains across the state, and in drought years that water is a lifesaver. Also, it delivers snow to the mountains, which keeps the ski resorts open and those tourist dollars rolling in. Not only that, but a healthy snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains feeds the state’s reservoirs. On the other hand El Nino doesn’t give away anything for free. There is a cost to this climate event, and it comes in the form of property damage, power outages, car accidents, flash floods, and death. The ’96-’97 El Nino, for example, took 17 lives.
What to expect
A cold front in early November has already come down from the northwest and caused the storming and snowfall that are currently making headlines. Experts are in agreement that this is just the beginning, that this El Nino is larger than in years past, and it will bring bigger storms. Expect more traffic collisions caused by this unruly weather. And it’s a given that freezing temperatures and frost will be a staple of what is sure to be a particularly cold winter.