News / USA

Blame it on El Niño!

US blizzards, Asia's typhoons, other extreme weather all linked to Pacific Ocean anomaly

Multimedia

Audio

Washington, D.C. is enduring its second major snowstorm in less than a week and the third this winter season. Experts say the oceanic disturbance known as El Niño is to blame for severe weather here and around the world in recent months.

Every three to seven years or so, heat buildup in the tropical Pacific Ocean reaches a critical point, says Kevin Trenberth at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

"In some sense," Trenberth says, "the ocean says, 'I can't stand it anymore. I'm going to have an El Niño.'"

And when it does, look out.

The warmer Pacific Ocean pours heat and moisture into the atmosphere, disturbing the usual airflow patterns and messing up weather around the world. Although the 1997-98 El Niño event was stronger, Trenberth says this current one is the strongest in a decade.

"It's still probably not in the 'major' category," he says, "but it's having some substantial influences around the world."

 

 

 

 

Storms, droughts linked

Southeast Asia felt El Niño's influence during last year's typhoon season. A series of devastating storms hit the region, killing thousands and causing massive flooding and landslides. On the other hand, dry conditions are predicted for Indonesia, raising the risk of forest fires. And farther west, late monsoon rains caused crop failures in parts of India. That has helped drive up food prices.

Although it's harder to say to what degree El Niño is to blame for India's late monsoon, Trenberth says, "It certainly doesn't help. Let me put it that way."

Some good news

But El Niño isn't all bad news. Drought-stricken California is getting some much-needed rain. And parts of Africa could benefit as well.

"The drought that's currently going on in Kenya could be alleviated by the conditions that develop in the later stages," Trenberth says. El Niño conditions are expected to continue for at least the next couple months. After that, the cycle goes into transition mode. "That's where the predictability, so to speak, is actually probably less than at any other time."

As another snowstorm blankets Washington, D.C., the prospect of more unpredictable weather is hardly a comforting thought.

 

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid