We have endured one of the craziest winters anyone has seen in awhile. While global warming is what many are blaming for the bizarre weather patterns, it seems like there is another phenomenon that may be in play.
Every several years, we experience something known as "El Nino". The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA defines this weather event as a "large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific".
What does that mean exactly?
Well to put it simply, unusually warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures will make weather across North America get kooky.
Sometimes these weather phenomenons can be particularly bad. Weather experts point to the El Nino that occurred in 1997 as the worst in recent history.
These ultra intense weather phenomenons are dubbed "Super El Ninos". Scientists think that 2014 is going to be another one of those years.
NASA climatologist Bill Patzert said that the "pattern of sea surface heights and temperatures" that has formed reminds him "of the way the Pacific looked in the spring of 1997."
The last 30day aggregate of anomalous vertical ascent (blue = increased vertical motion). El Nino signature is seen. pic.twitter.com/GS8XMrabHj
— WSI Energy Weather (@WSI_Energy) May 20, 2014
There are a couple reasons why this is bad news.
First, it means we are likely going to see extremely heavy rainfalls, which raises the possibility of serious flood damage. There is also the heat that comes with it. After a winter where we Americans froze our behinds off, it looks like we're headed to the polar opposite: a summer where you can fry eggs on the sidewalk.
It can also mean heavy droughts, which for portions of the United States already coping with a lack of rainfall is anything but welcome news.
— GeolSoc Env Network (@en_geolsoc) May 19, 2014
Is excess rain and blistering heat the only things we can expect this year? It's hard to tell as El Ninos and the weather they cause are notoriously unpredictable. If you're in the Midwest, it may mean you'll see colder weather than usual or it could bring record-breaking heat waves.
Whatever the case may be, it's a good idea to simply expect the unexpected of our 2014 summer weather.
Image via Wikimedia Commons