El Niño is on its way...probably. The Climate Prediction Center released its latest forecast yesterday and gives the ocean warm-up a "greater than 50%" chance of occurring. Slate's Eric Holthaus did a great job the other day explaining why the potential El Niño "could be a monster."
An El Niño occurs when warm water travels from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific and warms the surface water by at least 0.5°C for an extended period of time. This abnormal warmth can greatly alter weather patterns across the world, including a decrease in Atlantic hurricane activity and the chance for very heavy (and much-needed) rainfall to the western United States.
[Image via CPC]