As fall begins, its time to anticipate winter, which may differ significantly from previous years due to El Niño.
The phenomenon, which affects winter weather extensively, will be felt for the first time in several years this winter.
The El Niño Southern Oscillation, consisting of three stages, follows ocean temperature fluctuations in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, affecting global weather patterns. El Niño happens when ocean temperatures exceed normal for a prolonged time.
This winter may be what? While each El Niño winter is unique, there are similar temperature and precipitation tendencies.
The jet stream moves south during El Niño winters, which is a crucial factor. NOAA says this change sends wetter, colder weather to the South and drier, warmer weather to the North.
During El Niño winters, storms can sweep over the South more often due to the jet stream, which is a river of air. Storms increase rainfall from the southern Plains to the Southeast. This may be critical for drought-stricken Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
In the South, cooler temperatures and more frequent precipitation may raise the likelihood of freezing rain, sleet, and snow.
Typically, El Niño causes milder winters in the North, including the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, Plains, and Midwest. Storms can still bring extreme cold or heavy snow to these places, although they are rarer.
The Pacific Northwest's snowpack, a major water supply, and parts of the Midwest experiencing acute drought would suffer.