3 El Nino Myths, And The Truth Behind Them

What is El Nino?

Many of you this season, especially in the United States, might be hearing that it’s “El Niño Season.” Various websites and news stations have covered the topic all month. What does this even mean? Well, to people who don’t know really know, it means an extra rainy season with disastrous floods and a change in water temperature in the ocean. Not every El Niño is the same. There are even possibilities of La Nina instead of El Niño. La Nina is the exact opposite of El Niño, when waters by the equator cool off to a temperature below normal rather than heat up to above normal.

These are myths about the season, among others, that are spread every few years when the weather patterns change. While they can sometimes be true to an extent, it’s not always the case:

Myth 1: El Nino comes to the United States like Hurricane Season comes to the Gulf of Mexico

False. Many Americans think that El Niño is a “thing” that comes to the United States and changes so many ecological aspects of our waters and weather. It is actually something that happens closer to the equator. That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever feel the effects of the waters changing, whether it be an influx of marine life or a change in mating habits because of water temperatures, but it’s not very likely to be a drastic change for us. Typically, every two to seven years, a sort of reverse happens in the Pacific and the water heats up a little higher than normal around the equator. It is actually this warming that is called El Niño, meaning “Christ child.” It was dubbed this name because its repercussions are usually greatest in the winter and often times disrupt fishing in more southern, warmer areas like South America.

3 El Nino Myths, And The Truth Behind Them - Clapway

Myth 2: El Nino happens in the summer

Wrong. According to the forecasts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the warm up down south should occur later this fall. If we were to even feel the effects of El Nino at all, we would most likely experience them in the winter. You can actually stay pretty up-to-date with El Nino information on the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

Myth 3: El Nino means lots of rain for California

Nope. Well, not always. As previously stated, El Nino seasons are not always the same. Sure, there might be excessive rain in California one year, but that doesn’t mean there will be again when the season returns. The same goes for flooding. Floods happen sometimes, and sometimes they happen during an El Nino season. Again, it might end up being the cause but it’s typically unlikely.

Summer Rains: El Nino or Climate Change?

Typical indicators of El Nino are said to be a wetter winter than usual in many areas of the United States and droughts in Australia and surrounding islands. While it’s comforting to think that the strange flooding in Texas and the few marine changes in California this year were due El Nino, I think it’s safe to say that most of what we’ve been experiencing so far can be chalked up to our good old friend Climate Change.


Mother Nature comes to visit your place with Atmoph: