El Niño is “an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region”. It has been affecting Tucson for some time now and has an “80 percent chance of lasting into early spring 2016,” the research says.

Temperatures will be above normal across the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Plains, and the Upper Mississippi Valley. Temperatures will be below normal from the Southwest through the Southern Plains, the Southeast, and the Atlantic Seaboard. According to the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), this year’s El Niño is the strongest in the months December to February.

In 1997-1998, Arizona had the strongest impact from El Niño. In 2015 the numbers are approximately the same. There is a very similar pattern of warm water distribution in the two years. 2015 might be the hottest year in the history.

“If 2016 turns out to be as warm as we anticipate, that would be unprecedented in our record book,” said climatologist Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

“Even without El Niño this would have been the warmest year on record,” Schmidt said. “We are looking at a long-term trend, and the factors that cause this long-term trend are continuing to accelerate, namely the increased burning of carbon dioxide fuels and other emissions.”

2015 is the second warmest year in 121 years of record keeping, said Los Angeles Times Newspaper. Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, N.C., said that it is most likely that 2016 will be even hotter than 2015.

Severe flooding engulfed the east side of campus during a recent storm, driven by El Niño. Photo courtesy of Ben Petersen.

Severe flooding engulfed the east side of campus during a recent storm, driven by El Niño. Photo courtesy of Ben Petersen.

Scientists report that it was no surprise that the record was broken last year because of the amount of carbon dioxide in the system.

El Niño has a great impact on Tucson especially. There are both positive and negative consequences. One of the benefits is an increased amount of rain that might bust the drought. However, there are bad consequences too.

However, there are negative effects as well. A senior at our school, Garthan Freeman, has suffered from El Niño

“It has caused a huge inconvenience for me as I now have to take a longer route around. It has also caused a large amount of traffic resulting in me having to leave much earlier for school,” said Freeman.

The homes of students and the school campus have felt the impact. The rains this winter have been twice as frequent. For seniors, issues related to flooding in the senior area has made it difficult for students to access their belongings.

One thing is for sure – between Tucson’s irregular warm and cold winter temperatures, meteorological phenomena like El Niño continue to keep things interesting.