The Norman Transcript

March 7, 2014

El Nino: Good news for U.S. weather woes


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Relief may be on the way for a weather-weary United States with the predicted warming of the central Pacific Ocean brewing this year that will likely change weather worldwide, but it won’t be for the better everywhere.

The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states and a milder winter for the frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists said.

While it could be good news to lessen the southwestern U.S. drought and shrink heating bills next winter in the far north, “worldwide it can be quite a different story,” said Ken Kunkel, North Carolina State University atmospheric sciences professor.

Globally, it can mean an even hotter year coming up and billions of dollars in losses for food crops.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino watch Thursday. An El Nino is a warming of the central Pacific once every few years. It shakes up climate around the world.

Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says the El Nino warming should develop by this summer, but that there are no guarantees. Although early signs are appearing already a few hundred feet below the ocean surface, meteorologists say an El Nino started to brew in 2012 and then shut down suddenly and unexpectedly.

—AP

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