Eliza: What is “El Niño” anyway?

If you have left your dorm/apartment/bed in the past week, week & a half, you’ve probably noticed that the weather is, like, seriously wack.  And we’re not talking crazy rain or early snow – no that would be almost normal.  We’re talking it was 70 degrees yesterday, and it’s November in New England.  For those of you that are new, that is definitely not normal.

So yeah, global warming is real – but people also keep throwing around this “El Niño” term to explain the seriously weird weather.  I had barely any idea what it actually meant though, so I decided to investigate.

It turns out that El Niño is “an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere  system in the tropical Pacific,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  And it seriously can change the weather around the whole globe.

For North America, it means different things depending on where on the continent you are.  In big news, it tends to mean a less severe hurricane season.  In the Upper Northeast it usually means a drier and warmer than average winter – meaning less snow.

I guess our random 70-degree days could have to do with this warmer winter that’s coming our way, and after last year, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, right?  According to the NOAA, there’s over a 90% chance that El Niño will last though winter, so that seems to makes sense.

HOWEVER: The other major weather predictor of the world, the Farmer’s Almanac, is predicting a winter that will be VERY much the same as last year. (Read: Lots of cold lots of wind lots of snow).  With these conflicting predictions, it’s pretty hard to say what’s coming.  At least we can definitely say that these days are super weird, but not bad either.

Published by


The COM Ambassador program is available to current and prospective COM freshmen. We are here to answer questions and help you learn all the great things that BU, COM and Boston have to offer. Be bold. Be creative. Be COM. @BU

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *