Unto Us El Niño Is Born: Tornados in California

The forecasts were right: New York is officially warmer than Los Angeles on Christmas Day, thanks to El Niño.

The entire East Coast is experiencing unusually warm December weather, while the West Coast endures a cold snap and snowstorms that frustrated travelers and delighted skiers looking forward to hitting freshly powdered slopes.

Several tornados were spotted in Northern California, east of Sacramento, with one touching down in El Dorado County. Thunderstorms also raged across the Midwest, even reaching the East Coast in places, with a frontal system more typical of spring than mid-winter–warm, moist air south and east hitting cold air from the north and west.

The warm waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean are expected to continue to cause unusual weather, including heavy precipitation in California and warmer temperatures than usual on the East Coast–bringing some drought relief to the west and a welcome change from the heavy snows and “polar vortex” freezes of the past few winters in the east.

The strange weather is not the result of climate change but of El Niño, a periodic weather pattern that occurs every several years. This year’s El Niño effect is predicted to be the strongest ever recorded, and coastal communities in California have braced for higher surf and possible flood conditions throughout the coming winter months.


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