El Niño

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Lauren Huesers, Staff Writer

The recent abnormally warm, rainy season has brought up many questions as to why this is occurring, and many have turned to El Niño for the answer.

El Niño, meaning little boy or Christ child in Spanish, is short for El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, a scientific term that describes the dramatic changes in temperature in North America. It was first discovered by 17th-century fishermen off the coast of South America, who noticed unusually warm weather during the winter months. This phenomenon was thus named Christ child because of its occurrence around December.

El Niño typically affects North America the most harshly, resulting in warmer weather in the northern and western regions and wetter weather off the Gulf Coast.

Every two years, El Niño is expected to hit and last 6 to 18 months.

El Niño does have a sister, La Niña, who accounts for the colder than usual temperatures, although this occurs less often than El Niño.

Scientists don’t have a clear explanation on how or why El Niño occurs.

What does this mean for us Kansas folks?

A wetter and warmer season should be expected, as has already been proven from the beginning of 2016. Temperatures have reached 60 degrees in some parts of Kansas, and as the groundhog did not see his shadow on February 2nd, it looks like spring is coming early.