Hurricane Patricia, More Pacific Storms, and 4 Other Signs of El Niño
A strong El Niño is raising Pacific Ocean temperatures, affecting everything from the fish we eat to how diseases spread.
Even before Hurricane Patricia lashed into Mexico this weekend, the central Pacific Ocean had already been flogged by a record number of tropical storms. Give some credit to El Niño.
As this year’s strong El Niño raises ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific, it appears to be following a classic pattern of acting both as a match that helps ignite tropical storms and as gasoline that makes them grow stronger.
El Niño is one phase in a years-long back-and-forth in Pacific Ocean temperatures and winds near the equator. Low-altitude trade winds that typically blow to the west weaken or reverse course during an El Niño.
And warm water that would usually shift toward Asia instead builds up in the eastern and