El Niño/La Niña
The regular three-monthly global forecasts for rain and snow provided by the Climate Centre and its partners at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) include background information on, and forecasts of, El Niño and La Niña.
We also cover El Niño forecasts by other leading agencies like the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration in our regular news items.
El Niño is a natural part of climate variability and refers to warmer-than-average periods in the equatorial Pacific; it’s the opposite of cold La Niña events.
While an El Niño can go unnoticed or even have beneficial impacts in many parts of the world, it can also be disruptive or cause extensive problems when some areas get too much or too little rainfall, such as the devastating drought in Africa with the 2015–16 El Niño.
Once developed, El Niño events typically persist for about a year, peaking during October–January; the greatest impacts for a particular location may not coincide with this peak and are usually felt during rainy seasons.
Every El Niño is different. The best way to judge whether one is likely to bring too much or too little rainfall is to monitor seasonal forecasts, which take factors from El Niño and other climate elements into account.