El Niño intensifies: What does it mean for the US this winter?

Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature anomaly map. Yellow, orange, red, and pink spots have warmer water than typical. The warm waters of El Niño are located west of South America. NASA Worldview

El Niño may cause weather disruptions in some parts of the US as winter approaches in just four weeks.

El Niño is a phenomena where water around the eastern Pacific Ocean equator exceeds the historical average by at least 0.9°F (0.5°C) for a prolonged period.

Since early June, the El Niño has been evolving, preparing for the first winter with an El Niño since 2018-19.

The emergence of El Niño represents a substantial shift from the preceding three winters, when La Niña prevailed. This flip will have major winter weather effects in North America, some of which are already apparent.

El Niño, originating in the Pacific Ocean, alters the jet stream and weather hundreds of miles away. Weather patterns diverge from La Niña, leading AccuWeather meteorologists to predict a unique winter compared to previous years.