'Godzilla' of El Ninos could be strongest since 1950: Dave Phillips
Published Wednesday, December 30, 2015 11:54AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:09AM EST
The current El Nino weather episode that's causing some of the wild weather seen around the world this year shows no signs of waning, according to NASA.
The space agency released a satellite image of the current El Nino in the Pacific Ocean this week, noting that it bears a "striking resemblance" to the El Nino from 1997-1998.
That previous El Nino was responsible for a crippling ice storm that battered New England and Eastern Canada in January, 1998.
On Tuesday, NASA compared satellite images of the current El Nino with the El Nino from 18 years ago.
The images show all the signs of a “big and powerful El Nino," the space agency said on its website.
El Ninos form when the westward-blowing winds in the Pacific weaken or reverse direction, triggering a warming of the upper part of the Pacific Ocean.
Clouds and storms follow this warm band of water, pumping heat and moisture high into the atmosphere, NASA said. These changes alter weather patterns across much of the world. Historically, El Ninos occur every two to seven years.
The current El Nino has been blamed for some of the extreme weather across the world this year.
NASA says it has been associated with reduced rainfall in Southeast Asia, heat waves in India, droughts in South Africa, and flooding in South America.
In North America, El Nino has been linked to the unusually warm winter for much of Eastern Canada and the U.S., says Environment Canada Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips.
"Generally for Canada, this has meant a milder-than-normal winter," he told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. "In spite of the (recent) snowfall, we really had very little snow in parts of central Canada, and that was certainly brought to you by El Nino."
NASA said that the full effects of El Nino may not be felt in North America until early 2016, warning that we may not have seen the "peak" of the still-growing weather phenomenon.
Phillips agrees, noting that this El Nino has "earned its stripes," dubbing it as the "Godzilla of El Ninos."
"This one could very well be the most intense one we've seen since 1950," he said.
Extreme weather hit large parts of the U.S. over the last week, as a storm system brought deadly tornadoes to Texas and flooding to several states.
Across the Atlantic, weeks of heavy rains in northern England resulted in floods .
Earlier this month, the UN warned that natural disasters are expected to worsen next year due to the effects of El Nino.