Every three to seven years, variations in tropical winds and pressure shift warm ocean water east to the South American coast causing an El Nino event.  2015 is one of those years, and it’s shaping up to be a doozy…

El Nino is basically a region of warmer-than-average water in the tropical Pacific that can have widespread effects on weather patterns all over the Earth.  These include heavy rains and flooding in some places, catastrophic droughts in others, and pushing temperatures to unseasonable extremes in yet others.  2015’s El Nino is already the second strongest on record, and is gaining strength, leading to predictions that it could be a record-breaker.

So how is El Nino different from La Nina?

  • El Nino brings warm ocean water east to the South American coast
  • La Nina bring cooler water temperatures to the equatorial Pacific Ocean

Interestingly enough, despite is weather disruptions, El Nino can also dampen the effects of hurricanes.  El Nino causes strong wind shear — wind direction and speed change wildly at different heights above the ground.

The infographic below, created by Weather Underground, illustrates the differences and effects of El Nino and La Nina.

The difference between El Nino and La Nina
Source: Weather Underground


El Nino’s Final Form…

It’s easy to confuse El Nino with former SNL star Chris Farley, even through they bear a striking resemblance.  Don’t worry – El Nino in it’s final, human form, is a very rare occurrence.

Chris Farley is El Nino
Chris Farley as El Nino on Saturday Night Live.


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