Magazine article USA TODAY

The Weather outside Is Frightful(ly) Warm

Magazine article USA TODAY

The Weather outside Is Frightful(ly) Warm

Article excerpt

For months now, weather forecasters have been talking about a Godzilla El Nino. By definition El Nino is a patch of anomalously warmer than normal water right along the equator in the Pacific that typically extends from the South American coast, often eastward to the international dateline. The current El Nino is even more expansive than that. It is warm all the way across to well west of the dateline.

When ocean temperatures along the equator in the Pacific Ocean are extremely warm, we call that climate anomaly an El Nino," notes climatologist Dave Gutzler, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. "It's been building up for more than a year. In fact, it was expected to get really warm a year ago but it fizzled out through last winter, but starting last spring, the temperatures right along the equator warmed up dramatically so we had a full blown El Nino."

The current full-blown El Nino was noticeable back in June. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the strong El Nino to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter, followed by weakening and a transition to El Nino Southern Oscillation-neutral during the late spring or early summer. …

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