El Niño Expected to Bring New Weather Extremes

As hot as the Earth’s weather has been in recent years, it’s about to get hotter — El Niño is on the way, with warmer sea temperatures promising new weather extremes, U.S. and international forecasters say.

For several years now, a persistent La Niña pattern in the equatorial Pacific Ocean has been easing some of the worst temperature rises, as well as shaking up precipitation patterns. 

La Niña, which worsens Atlantic hurricanes and western droughts, said adios in March. Since then the U.S. forecasters are watching for El Niño, which usually quiets hurricanes in the east and activates hurricane activity in the Pacific.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said La Niña “acted as a temporary brake on global temperature increase,” which we’ve seen since late 2020.

But because of the new trend of warmer sea surface temperatures, Taalas added, “El Niño will most likely lead to a new spike in global heating and increase the chance of breaking temperature records” that were only recently set.

The May/June/July seasonal outlook is below.

Confidence is growing for a new pattern to take place, but it’s unknown how strong the effect will be.

The World Meteorological Organization is urging people and governments to prepare for hotter and more volatile conditions, citing a possible repeat of 2016 — the warmest year on record, thanks to what the WMO calls a “‘double whammy’ of a very powerful El Niño event and human-induced warming from greenhouse gases.”


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