CURATED BY Brad Plumer
2014-05-22 12:06:29 -0400
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It's looking increasingly likely.
An El Niño officially occurs when sea surface temperatures in the southern Pacific rise 0.5°C above their historical average. Right, now, temperatures just beneath the surface are rising fast, and many forecasters are raising the odds of an El Niño in 2014.
Here's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: "the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, exceeding 50% by summer." Forecasters are now predictng a nearly 80 percent chance of El Niño by September:
That said, nothing's absolutely certain yet. In 2012, the odds of an El Niño rose to 75 percent — but El Niño never arrived.
Another important question, meanwhile, is whether we'll see a strong El Niño or a weaker one. That's much harder to answer (and see the next card for more on that).
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