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An El Niño winter with warmer temperatures and possibly less precipitation than average could pose a challenge for some Wisconsin recreation and tourism businesses, although many already have been adapting to uncertain winters with less snow.
Winter wheat
Agriculture depends entirely on weather, with its uncertainties affecting the fortunes of all people, from small farmers to consumers, as the global market shifts food prices.
Wood frog
The El Niño that started in early 2015 and is affecting global weather patterns could be less than idyllic for Wisconsin wildlife adapted to snowy conditions.
ENSO in 2014
The El Niño Southern Oscillation is an irregular cycle in which changing temperatures of surface waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean can result in major impacts on global weather patterns.
ENSO sea level comparison, 1997 and 2015
The El Niño of 1997-98 was historic, but no two ENSO events are alike, nor are their weather effects in any given location, thanks to differences in how Pacific Ocean waters warm.
ENSO in 1997 and 1998
The 1997-98 El Niño event stands out both for its intensity and how it brought the ENSO phenomenon to public attention.
Ice skaters in Madison
Each El Niño event has a different effect on weather conditions on both global and local scales. These differences in large part depend on how a given El Niño develops.
ENSO 2015 forecast
The current El Niño is on track to be one of the strongest recorded. Indicators of a strong cycle have been increasingly documented over much of 2015 and continued to mount into autumn.
ENSO impact in North America
While the ENSO cycle is unpredictable, climatologists have identified consistent weather patterns during strong El Niño and La Niña years since the 1950s.
ENSO cycle map
The weather phenomenon most commonly called El Niño is one part in a cycle of irregularly changing trade winds and sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.