Good Question: What’s going on with El Niño and La Niña?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It’s been an unusual winter in Rochester to say the least. We’re not alone. A lot of the country has seen bizarre weather over the last few months.

The severe conditions inspired one of you to ask – what’s going on with the weather patterns known as El Niño and La Niña?

Earlier this month, there was unprecedented rain, winds, and flooding up and down the west coast. Back in December, the deadly blizzard in Buffalo claimed the lives of almost 50 Western New Yorkers. Across the country, there have been severe weather events, prompting a viewer named Marcos to wonder what’s the cause.

Macros says: “I remember when the weather conditions called as El Niño and La Niña were culprits of inclement weather on the west coast. Whatever happened to the pair?”

First Alert Meteorologist Rich Caniglia explains the impact of El Niño and La Niña.

Rich: “We’ve been in a La Niña pattern now for three years, so it’s been kind of that same pattern now for several years in a row, so we’re dealing with La Niña but it shows signs that it’s kind of weakening. We may transition back to El Niño next year. It doesn’t often stay one for this long, so this has been kind of unusual to have three years of La Niña.”

Emily Putnam: “It seems like we used to hear about El Niño and La Niña a lot more than we do now. Do you know if there’s any reason for that?”

Rich: “I don’t know if we’re hearing less about it, but El Niño tends to be the more attention-grabbing headline, so we haven’t had that for several years, so that could be why. I bet you when we get into this El Niño next year, if that does develop you’re gonna hear a lot about that because El Niño tends to have more significant weather impacts across the country.”

If you’re not familiar with the terms, they have to do with surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean. Here’s an interesting fact. El Niño got its name from South American Fisherman. It translates to “little boy” or “christ child” and it has historically started to appear around Christmas time.

As Rich said, they’re still around, still having an impact, and could change next year.