University of Arizona launches website dedicated to El Niño coverage

Tucson’s University of Arizona weather center has launched a website to serve as a hub for information and news about El Niño, which has been grabbing headlines around the United States.

Researchers at the University of Arizona’s Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) program initiated the El Niño web page as a way to provide information on the weather pattern to the public. The El Niño phenomenon happens on the West Coast every two to seven years and typically brings wetter, cooler weather to the region.

This year’s El Niño pattern is forecast to bring record rain and snow to the American southwest, which has made it the topic of major media coverage. 

"This El Niño will be one of the top three strongest events on record," Ben McMahan, a research outreach and assessment specialist with CLIMAS, said. "People are interested in it because these kinds of strong events don’t happen very often."

Still, McMahan said it’s important not to panic in the face of heavier El Niño weather.

"A lot of the forecast models and media coverage give people the impression that it’s going to rain every day, but when you talk to the forecasters and climate scientists, none of them think that’s likely to happen," he said. "We might have some severe weather, but we might also have some below-average months, too. But overall we expect above-average rainfall this winter."

ENSO Hub is compiling information from the National Weather Service, the Western Regional Climate Center and other sources to keep residents up to date. The website also features an El Niño podcast, a Twitter feed, and answers to frequently asked questions.

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