El Niņo and La Niņa.

By definition, El Niņo and La Niņa are highly intricate weather patterns that are a direct result of fluctuating Equatorial Pacific ocean temperatures. These extremely complex weather patterns contain opposite phases from each other found in the ENSO cycle otherwise known as the El Niņo Southern Oscillation. Scientifically, the ENSO cycle is a term used to describe the temperature variations found in between the east-central Equatorial Pacific ocean and the area's atmosphere.

While El Niņo and La Niņa travel on an unusually erratic frequency, the storms typically arrive every 2 to 7 years during the last 9 to 12 months. However, they have been known to last several years. El Niņo is referred to as the ENSO cycle warm phase and La Niņa is regarded as the ENSO cycle cold phase. Generally, La Niņa will occur less than El Niņo. These temperature fluctuations have not only caused large-scale impacts on our environment but they also negatively affect our world's climate, weather, and ocean processes.

El Niņo

As the ENSO cycles warmer phase, El Niņo is related to the oceanic atmosphere climate interaction period that is associated with warming the oceans surface temperature within the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. When translated from Spanish to English, El Niņo means The Little Boy or Christ Child. El Niņo was first sighted off the coast of South America by a man fishing in the 1600s. The sighting was during a period of time when the Pacific was experiencing a bout of unusually warmer weather.

El Niņo customarily arrives in North America right before the winter season. During this time different regions will notice above average warmer, wetter, and drier temperatures. The North/ Western U.S. and Central/Eastern Canada regions will experience unusually warmer weather. Florida as well as the U.S. Gulf Coast regions will experience wetter than average weather. While the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley regions will experience drier than normal weather. Expect the arrival of El Niņo to highly impact marine fisheries, atypical weather patterns and oceanic conditions worldwide.

La Niņa

La Niņa is opposite of El Niņo in practically every way. As the ENSO cycles colder phase, La Niņa is related to the east central Pacific's period of lower than average ocean surface temperatures which affects the global climate differently from El Niņo. La Niņa is a colder event and when translated from Spanish to English, La Niņa means The Little Girl. La Niņa is also referred to as anti-El Niņo or El Viejo (cold event). When La Niņa arrives, the winter temperatures will be cooler than average in the Northwest and warmer than average in the Southeast, which is directly opposite of El Niņo.

Do not be caught off guard when El Niņo or El Niņa hits your region. These storms are not a force to be reckoned with. Be prepared.