By Kirsten Niosi
“Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she’s going to come around and whack you. You’ve got to be prepared.” –Geraldo Rivera
We have seen all around the world the wonders and the destruction of nature, and it’s safe to say that you can never be completely sure of what is to come next. However, when it comes to the weather, researchers and experts have a way of attempting to predict future weather based on previous patterns. One of the methods used to accomplish this task is through the study of the La Nina and El Nino windstorms. As many of HHS Spanish students know, la niña and el niño are the Spanish words for the young girl/boy, or more traditionally “The Christ Child.” The name of this storm is not coincidently similar to these Spanish words. The name of this phenomenon is credited to a South American fisherman whose reasoning was that the winds begin during Christmas time. But can we credit the crazy cold and snowy winter we are in now to one of them?
Mr. Rigney, HHS science teacher and secret WeatherBug, says that we are currently in the El Nino wind cycle, and it does directly affects us here in Maryland. This is because these winds are associated with the ocean currents. The East and West coast are experiencing the effects of these winds because of their location near either the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. According to NASA, El Nino is scientifically “an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific” and is a crucial part of the Southern Oscillation. The Southern Oscillation is a pattern of changing the surface air pressure between the eastern and western Pacific. All of this means is that when there is high pressure in the east, there is low pressure in the west. When El Nino is taking place, it is often that the nation can experience massive amounts of snow in the winter, and during the summer, floods and hurricanes in one part of the nation while intense droughts in the other.
However, according to NOAA, “…not all El Nino’s are the same nor does the atmosphere always react in the same way from one El Nino to another.” And for this reason, Earth Scientists are still trying to discover the real cause of the winds and take part in international efforts to understand El Nino events. They can only study patterns of previous years and take into consideration what may happen next. Through their research so far, a crucial piece of information has been discovered. This is that the cold La Niña events sometimes follow El Niño events. What does this have to do with Huntingtown? This means that this cold is possibly here to stay for a while longer. Even when the wetter, snowier El Nino winds leave, the blistering old La Nina winds could be on their way. From this, senior, Nathan Bailey, says, “When I was asked if I knew about the winds, I had no idea what I was being asked. But I decided to look some information up and it turns out if these predictions are right, I’m going be buying winter clothes for WAY longer than I want to!”