El Nino is a warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. While it is not caused specifically by climate change, the effects of climate change can make an El Nino event more severe. It happens when trade winds blowing toward the west weaken. During normal weather conditions, trade winds cause warm water to culminate in the western Pacific Ocean and cold water to culminate in the eastern Pacific. When these winds weaken warmer water accumulates in the Pacific Ocean and rainfall patterns change, often intensifying and causing catastrophic events.
That?s what?s been happening in Guangdong Province in China for close to 13 months. Rivers have crested and overflowed and damaging rains have impacted homes and businesses. El Nino events are cyclical and tend to occur every six to eight years. The last one in China, during 1997-1998 was the worst on record, where lives were lost and homes were destroyed from flooding. China's National Marine Forecasting Center announced recently that data is now showing that this most recent event is coming to a close. While there have been record storms, this cycle of El Nino has not been as bad as past events. The weather pattern does not stop on a dime however, so forecasters have stressed that flooding and other storms caused by the 2015-2016 El Nino event could continue for a bit longer.