A ferocious, angry monster is on its way to California, and everyone should run for their umbrellas. A “Godzilla” El Niño is likely going to hit the United States this year, which scientists are predicting could be the strongest on record and bring “once-in-a-generation” storms to the drought-stricken West Coast.
El Niño is a weather phenomenon that occurs when the Pacific Ocean near the equator heats up. Usually, easterly trade winds cool and contain the area, but with El Niño those winds slow down or change course, spreading warm water and bringing tropical weather to California and southern parts of the United States. This sends weather patterns haywire. The heating up has been happening since May, but will reach its peak in the fall and winter, and last through spring 2016.
Scientists say the models show the ocean temperatures are now rising more powerfully than the record 1997 El Niño, which doused and drenched California, leading to massive flooding and mudslides. California is parched and in desperate need of wet weather, but scientists warn that even a giant dinosaur’s worth of torrential rains might not be enough to reverse four years of crippling drought — not to mention the potential damage and devastation such forceful storms could unleash on the state.
And any rain North or South America gains is another region’s loss — parts of Asia will start drying out, and have been already. Last time a killer El Niño rolled around, the Earth sweated through one of the hottest years on record. Of course, for those on the East Coast the news isn’t so, so awful, unless you just invested in a puffy jacket. El Niño likely means a tamer Atlantic hurricane season and a much milder winter with rain instead of snow, possibly sending our pal, the polar vortex, into at least temporary retirement. Or, you know, never trust the weatherperson and buy those snow shovels anyway.