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El Niño's Back, Expected to Bring a Warmer Winter

Missouri is well known for unpredictable weather patterns, and experts say this coming winter won’t be any different, due to the weather phenomenon known as “El Niño.” KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

Local meteorologists say El Niño is an event that occurs when normal trade winds that blow east to west become weaker.

The weaker trade winds cause the water in the Pacific Ocean to be warmer.

As a result, this warmer weather makes for more precipitation and a warmer winter in the continental U.S.

El Niño was named by fishermen in South America, because the phenomenon prevents the circulation of nutrients in the ocean, causing fish to have a harder time finding food.

El Niño means Christ-child in Spanish.

Its effects are more noticeable around Christmas time.

David Gaede is the science and operations manager for the National Weather Service in Springfield.

He says El Niño occurs every two to five years and has more of an impact on the west coast.

“Now, during the wintertime the storm track becomes a little more southerly and what that tends to do is it brings a little more stormy weather to say California, where you get a little heavier precipitation. It’s usually during El Niño years that you hear more about flooding and mudslides in California. Also, you tend to have stormier weather along the gulf coast states also,” Gaede said.

But, he says, the Midwest will certainly feel its impact, too.

Gaede says this winter in Missouri there will be above average temperatures and average precipitation.

“Here in the Ozarks there’s really a general trend in the weather due specifically to El Niño. We tend to be on the edge of that storm track, so it usually depends on the position and the strength of the El Niño as to what type of weather we’re getting here,” Gaede said.

He says for the past few years, the U.S. has been experiencing the effects of La Niña, which is the exact opposite of El Niño.

Gaede says La Niña brings stormy winter weather and colder temperatures.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.