For years, people have been pointing to El Niño as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Niño conditions develop?

The Southern Oscillation Index tracks differences in air pressure between the eastern and western sides of the tropical Pacific.

El Niño and La Niña conditions occur when abnormally warm or cool waters accumulate in tropical latitudes of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The Oceanic Nino Index is the tool NOAA scienitsts use to watch for these temperature changes. 

An El Niño means lots of rain for California, correct? Well, some of the time, but not always.

After some very cold weather this month, folks are likely wondering if the early chill is a harbinger of things to come this winter. "Not necessarily," explains Mike Halpert of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in this week's ENSO blog post.

How to interpret climate outlooks and make $$$$ millions.*

**OK, maybe an overstatement, but you'll at least understand probabilistic forecasts better.  

sea surface height anomaly from satellite data

What's behind the drop in probabilities this month? And why might forecasting this event be particularly tricky?

How can warming at Earth’s surface have slowed when energy accumulation is growing? The role of our oceans—including ENSO—is key.

How El Niño is like different flavors of ice cream.  Seriously.

The forecasts often provided useful information for the coming few months, but had more limited accuracy and value in forecasting beyond that.

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