El Niño makes a comeback

El Niño is Spanish for 'the boy child' which refers to 'the Christ child.'  It was given this name because it usually occurs around Christmas time.

El Niño is the warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration it occurs every two to five years and can last about one year on average.

The strength can vary, but this El Niño is forecast to develop into a weak to moderate state.

The warming Pacific water's has an effect on the atmosphere. It causes pressure fields to change, which then changes the wind patterns.

Our sub-tropical jetstream is more zonal, meaning it is pretty much west to east and less amplified.  It usually sets up across the southern part of the United States bringing plenty of tropical moisture.

Due to the flow of the jetstream, El Niño years have been found to cause less Atlantic hurricanes.  At the same time they can cause damaging winter storms in California leading to flooding and mudslides.

So how will it affect Region 8's weather?  Over the next couple of months the impact is not that great across the United States.

That begins to change during the late fall into the winter months.  NOAA predicts it will be wetter in the southern United States, which comes close to Region 8.

On the other hand the temperatures may be a little cooler in the southeast due to wetter conditions, but milder in the northwest.  This usually leads to less wintry weather across the north.

This El Niño is predicted to last through winter 2009 to 2010.