This morning, before writing this column, I spent a considerable amount of time watering my wilting garden. Meanwhile, the
Yankees have been rained out for their third consecutive game. And out in California? Rain, no rain, rain, no rain... Why are we suffering such severe weather this summer? In case you have not heard, we are experiencing a weather phenomenon called El Nino. What is El Nino, and How Long Will This Last? According to Michael McPhaden, director of the Tropical Atmosphere Array, an
is born when west-blowing Pacific trade winds relax or reverse. Without the wind at its back, seawater that typically piles up on the jagged western edge of the Pacific -- around Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia -- slides back toward the Americas. The sliding water moves in what scientists call Kelvin waves. "It pushes the cold water down. That causes the initial warming," said McPhaden. At the same time, the Pacific reacts to the lost wind by building another series of waves under water. Called , they roll west toward Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia. Eventually, the series of waves strikes the coasts of those countries. Then, it reverses and heads back toward
for all of our maladies. From now on, we can start blaming the onset of La Nina. Most people will not notice the transition from El Nino to La Nina, as the weather will still be hot and there will initially be increased rainfall, particularly in California, which we may from this point forward refer to as CaliforNina. Level: Junior (college) Subject: Science Writing COUNTRY: USA Is La Nina Upon Us?