El Niño: The Hype and The Reality

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El Nino is the topic de jour for those living in or obsessed with mountain life.  You can hardly scroll through instagram or listen to a weather report without hearing talk of El Niño.  Though, much of the El Niño hype ignores that facts behind what El Niño really is.

CA El Nino

Social media and morning weather personalities would have us believe that El Niño is a winter of epic storms along the west coast.

El Nino Sierra Nevada Drought

Yet, NOAA defines El Niño as a a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

If El Niño is warmer ocean water, why does everyone keep talking about El Niño?

El Niño can correlate with those epic winter storms we keep hearing about along the west coast.  However, that isn’t always the case.  NOAA has a great article that discusses past El Niño weather patterns, and shows that some years El Niño brings the epic winters and some years not so much.

Over the last few years, California has seen a growing drought develop.  The snowpack that the state depends upon for water throughout each year has been dwindling down to almost nothing.

El Nino California Drought

While drinking water resources are important, most are more interested in snow levels for riding and skiing which is why the imminent El Niño is a big deal in the Tahoe region.

Everyone is hoping that El Niño’s warm pacific temperatures will equate to piles and piles of snow throughout the west coast this year.  

The hype may just be optimistic outlook, manifestation, or wishful thinking, but heres hoping for a big winter!