The El Niño event forecasters began warning of a year ago has finally arrived, albeit fashionably late. Characterized by unusually warm waters in the equatorial Pacific, an El Niño can bring about global weather changes. But the current one is so weak and ill-timed, it probably won’t offer its usual full menu of disruptions. For example, it’s unlikely to bring the drought-crippled West any wet relief.
The weather pattern may, however, make 2015 another record-breaker, especially if it sticks around through the dog days of summer (there’s a 50 percent to 60 percent chance for that, says NOAA). El Niño literally brings the heat—pushing our already warming global temperatures a little further up the thermometer. But as last year—when El Niño was a no-show—proved, we’re doing a mighty good job of burning fossil fuels and making things toasty all by ourselves.
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.