Can El Nino Slay the Mighty Polar Vortex?

The Midwest may get a warmer, drier winter this year
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2015 2:37 PM CDT
Can El Nino Slay the Mighty Polar Vortex?
El Nino may keep Chicago and the rest of the Midwest from looking like such a frozen hellscape this year.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

After two winters of wishing they were anywhere warmer—like a walk-in refrigerator or the inside of a snow cone—Chicago-area residents may finally get a break from polar vortexes thanks to a predicted El Nino event. The Chicago Tribune reports El Nino events are created when the Pacific Ocean gets unusually warm near the equator, resulting in warmer and drier winters in the northern United States. And NOAA says there's a 95% chance of an El Nino event for the United States this winter, according to NBC Chicago. The Tribune reports a major El Nino event over 1997 and 1998 gave Chicago its seventh warmest winter ever recorded.

And while the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center says Illinois is likely to see warmer temperatures and less precipitation in December, January, and February, no one is saying Chicago and the rest of the Midwest will definitely look less like Hoth and more like Tatooine this winter, NBC reports. Just last month the Old Farmer's Almanac predicted another very cold winter for the area. And the Tribune points out other factors can cancel out an El Nino event to produce frigid temperatures and snow. So maybe don't toss out those fleeces just yet. (More winter weather stories.)

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