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In the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California history, the winter storm El Niño has brought some relief to the lack of rain water. El Niño is a periodic warming of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and this has been the strongest El Niño cycle in 18 years.

The Weather Services International (WSI), a branch of the Weather Company, has predicted that El Niño could cause a potential “cold snap” in the central and eastern states. The WSI also stated that temperatures in America’s northern hemisphere will tend to be well above average and, “the best chance of colder-than-normal temperatures lies in roughly the southern half of the lower 48 states.”

The Weather Channel also predicts more precipitation for the mainly southern states and the west. The NOAA expects “January through March of 2016 to trend wetter than usual over much of the southern tier of the nation.”

As weather stations have predicted, the storms caused by El Niño have already begun to affect the Bay Area region throughout the beginning months of the new year.

Many families around the Bay Area and Menlo Park are beginning to prepare for the even more heavy rainfall. Senior Kelsey Tonsfeldt says her family is preparing for the storms by “getting sand bags from local hardware stores to direct heavy rain away from [their] house to avoid any rain damage.”

el nino flooding

Beyond temperature and rainfall, El Niño can affect other areas of the climate. Recently, weather patterns affecting the Pacific Ocean have caused 50-foot waves at Mavericks, a famous surf spot near Half Moon Bay. Local surfers reported that the massive waves at the surf spot were the largest they have been in three years because of El Niño’s influence.

Professional surfer Ian Walsh on Surfline expressed his amazement at the recent waves. Walsh disclosed, “I’ve never seen big waves like that in my entire life. When you’re out there and you see it, it just stops you in your tracks.”

Junior Spencer Montague-Alamin, a junior who enjoys surfing, explained, “The El Niño year increases volatility of storms in the area, making the west coast susceptible to large swells coming from the west.”

Montague-Alamin elaborated on how the swells will “create more opportunities for big-wave competitions such as the Pehai Challenge in Hawaii and the Todos Santos competition in Mexico.”

As weather stations have predicted, the storms caused by El Niño have already begun to affect the Bay Area region throughout the beginning months of the new year.

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