The ‘super’ El Niño is over, but La Niña looms

graphic of difference in seawater temperature, May 2016

The warm eastern Pacific waters that powered the recent “super” El Niño have dissipated, experts say. The difference in seawater temperature from the long-term average is shown here as the event fizzled during May 2016.


The 2015–2016 El Niño, one of the three strongest on record, is officially dead in the water.

More than a year after the weather-disrupting El Niño’s conception, the unusually warm seawater in the eastern Pacific Ocean has dissipated, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center reported June 9. During its reign, this El Niño boosted rainfall California, hastened coral bleaching and helped make 2015 the hottest year on record.

The agency estimates a 75 percent chance that El Niño’s meteorological sibling, La Niña, will take over in the coming months. La Niña conditions caused by relatively cool equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific can cause droughts in South America, heavy rainfall in Southeast Asia and can intensify Atlantic hurricane seasons.

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