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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published February 19 2014

Weather Talk: El Niño having less effect on Northern Plains winters

Whatever happened to El Niño? You don’t hear the term as often as you did in the 1980s and 1990s.

The large-scale changes in pressure and temperature across the tropical Pacific still happen every few years. But since the big El Niño of 1998-99, the feature has been happening with less frequency than before.

Not only that, but due to another Pacific Ocean weather pattern, the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), El Niño has been having less of an effect on our weather here in the Northern Plains.

During the 1980s and 1990s, when the PDO was in its warm phase, El Niño was a pretty sure thing, deflecting the jet stream to bring our region mild winters. But since the PDO turned cold, El Niño has been setting up hundreds of miles farther west, limiting its effect on our winters.


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