What Is ''El Nino''?

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By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - It is a mysterious phenomenon stemming from changes in ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean region.

El Nino is the name given when the temperatures are warmer than normal. Scientists are still trying to find out what causes these temperature changes and their apparent effects on the climate around the world.

During these events, our winters tend to be warmer and drier than normal, as the jet stream tends to send our usual autumn rains further south into central and southern California.

El Ninos occur roughly every 4-8 years and can last from six months to three years. This winter, we'll be in a moderate El Nino pattern. The last one was during the late 1997/early 1998 period.

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