El Niño is (probably) coming to an end

On the docket for this summer: worship the sun, rediscover that you have a personality, and… the weather pattern change you learned about in Grade 8?

Driving the news: After bringing a warmer and drier winter to much of Canada, the El Niño weather event is bidding farewell. Scientists say its effects could linger, but a recent estimate suggests there’s a 49% chance its colder and wetter twin, La Niña, will develop this summer.

  • During El Niño, the surface temperature of the ocean warms, raising temperatures. La Niña is when the opposite happens, and they last around one to three years each.

  • If El Niño ends in the next month, La Niña likely won’t enter right away, leaving eager patio-goers in a sort of weather purgatory (or, in scientific terms, a “neutral” state). 

Why it matters: La Niña could offer some much-needed TLC to Western Canada’s ongoing battle against droughts and wildfires by increasing precipitation and cooling temperatures. La Niña will also likely bring a harsher winter and a white Christmas (remember those?).

Yes, but: Some forecasters think the cooling effect that comes with a weakening El Niño won’t be enough to counteract the impacts of human-induced climate change, resulting in record-high temperatures across Canada in March, with more high temperatures this summer.—MR