El Nino's Visit Brings Good and Bad to Region
Kennedy, Kristy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kristy Kennedy Daily Herald Staff Writer
There's more than just odd weather that may be blamed on El Nino.
Bevies of bugs, intense allergies and a lack of lettuce - it'll probably be the weather phenomena's fault.
These are usual attributes of El Nino, which occurs about every seven years. El Nino, Spanish for "the baby," is caused by a shift in the trade winds off the east coast of South America, said Jim Kaplan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Weather experts say this El Nino is one of the strongest since the early 1980s, he said.
It hasn't been all bad, though. Chances were better than usual this winter travel plans weren't interrupted by airline delays or cancellations. Flowers bloomed earlier this year. And many golfers got to hit the links as early as February because of unheard of warm weather.
Have lots of ants in your house this spring? Sneezing and wheezing more than usual? Can't get one of those carry-out Caesar salads?
Blame it on El Nino.
That's just the start of things attributed to the weather phenomenon that occurs about every seven years. Here are some of the good items:
Chances were better than usual this winter your travel plans weren't interrupted by airline delays or cancellations. Flowers bloomed earlier this year. And many golfers got to hit the links as early as February because of unheard of warm weather.
Weather experts say this El Nino is one of the strongest since the early 1980s, said Jim Kaplan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Some believe the 1980s' El Nino caused an unusually hot summer in the Chicago area, Kaplan said. If that is so, he expects this summer to be sweltering.
But other experts have said it may cause chillier temperatures.
El Nino, Spanish for "the baby," refers to Jesus because the first signs of the weather phenomenon occur around the Christmas season, Kaplan said.
This El Nino is still going on, although it should be winding down, he said.
"Predicting the effects of El Nino may be a little easier than predicting El Nino itself," Kaplan said.
The phenomenon is caused by a shift in the trade winds off the east coast of South America, he said.
Normally the water is cold because westerly winds blow shallow water warmed by the sun out to sea, he said. Colder water then replaces it.
But when the winds shift, the upwelling effect is lost and the water along the coast is unusually warm, Kaplan said.
That causes thunderstorms to form over the ocean and disrupt jet stream patterns, keeping most of the cold Arctic air in the northern jet stream from spilling below the Great Lakes.
The effects are felt more directly in the tropics: torrential rains hit places like Peru, and droughts occur in places like Indonesia.
But it affects weather all over the world.
In the Chicago area, El Nino mostly affects the temperature, making it warmer than usual. But in areas like California and Florida, it also produces more rain. …