The El Nino of 2015-2016 is officially the most intense ever recorded. A report from New Scientist says this year's El Nino completely smashes the record set by the El Nino in 1997 and 1998. What El Nino is and how it's measured are pretty straightforward:
El Niño occurs when warm water that has piled up around Australia and Indonesia spills out east across the Pacific Ocean towards the Americas, taking the rain with it.
A key measure of its intensity is the warmth of water in the central Pacific. In 1997, at its peak on 26 November, it was 2.8 °C above average. According to the latest measurements, it reached 2.8 °C on 4 November this year, and went on to hit 3.1 °C on 18 November – the highest temperatures ever seen in this region.
Many scientists believe an El Nino this big is a byproduct of climate change. Whatever the cause, there's no doubt that El Nino has big effects on weather worldwide; with 2015 being the hottest year ever recorded, El Nino has been an element in major, deadly heat waves that killed thousands in India as well as heavy rains in the American west and southwest that have destroyed homes and shattered families. After all, the previous record-breaking El Nino in the late 1990s left hundreds dead (primarily due to disease arising from unusual weather patterns) and caused millions in damage
We'll start to see the impact of this historical weather system soon. The Weather Channel says El Nino could rob some of a chance at a White Christmas, rendering the month of December relatively warm in places like Boston and Minneapolis, where they frequently see cold and snowy holiday seasons.
El Nino can't last forever, so at least there's that. Once it's over, New Scientist reports we can expect El Nino's sister, La Nina,which will dry out the places drenched by El Nino conditions and heat up regions that cooled off.
Your best bet is probably just not going outside for a while.
Photos by NASA