Weather Lab Learning: El Niño

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 3:01 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Welcome to Weather Lab Learning! Today’s topic is “What is an El Niño phase?”

An El Niño warm phase is a weather phenomenon that occurs every three to seven years. It is the opposite of La Niña (cool phase weather pattern.) El Niño is a Spanish term meaning “little boy.” This weather pattern impacts ocean temperatures, speed and strength of ocean currents, and the health of coastal fisheries.

Trade winds push warm sea surface waters towards Asia, but they weaken. The warm sea surface waters flow back to the coast of South America. In this situation, heavy rainfall is potent over southeast Asia and northern Australia. Some parts of the Pacific coastal South America are dry.

The United States weather conditions are affected during the El Niño phase. The north and northwest parts of the United States stay warm. Due to the warmer conditions, snow can not form during this time. The south and southwest parts of the United States stay wet. The wet conditions can lead to above-normal precipitation and flooding in some areas.

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