If El NiÃ±o Comes This Year, It Could Be a Monster
Official NOAA Climate Prediction Center estimates peg the odds of El NiÃ±oâs return at 50 percent, but many climate scientists think that is a lowball estimate. And there are several indications that if it materializes, this yearâs El NiÃ±o could be massive, a lot like the 1997-98 event that was the strongest on record.
âI think thereâs no doubt that thereâs an El NiÃ±o underway,â said climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. âThe question is whether itâll be a small or big one.â
On top of some late-â90s nostalgia, a strong El NiÃ±o would bring pronounced changes to weather patterns around the globe, and possibly relief from some of the less-pleasant weather trends that have dominated headlines this year. After a Polar Vortex-fueled, unbearably cold winter in the U.S. Midwest and East Coast, a strong El NiÃ±o could bring warmer, drier weather in late 2014. And to parched California and its prolonged drought, El NiÃ±o might provide drenching rainstorms to fill up reservoirs. But the news wonât all be good. Rainstorms in California could mean floods and mudslides and, coupled with climate change, El NiÃ±o could bring harsher droughts to parts of Australia and Africa.
Beyond general outlines, it can be tough to say exactly what will happen with El NiÃ±o, so weâre going to break down some potential scenarios.