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What is El Nino? And what does it mean?

Posted: 7:28 AM, Feb 04, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-04 17:28:23Z

The term El Niño has gotten tossed around more in the last year than it has since 1998.

That's because this current El Niño is one of the strongest on record, if not THE strongest.

When an El Niño occurs, it alters weather patterns worldwide.

This worldwide weather shift begins in the Pacific Ocean near the equator off the coast of South America.

For the United States, the weather pattern shift translates to a cooler, wetter winter in the South and a milder, drier winter in the North.

So far this winter, this pattern has held true across most of the United States with an unusual winter for the entire country.

The West Coast has already seen a lot more rain than it usually does this winter, which has only improved the extreme drought conditions that have plagued that region for years.

Unfortunately, experts believe a single El Niño year won't remove the drought completely, but every additional drop of rain helps.

Follow Storm Shield Meteorologist Jason Meyers via the Storm Shield app on Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube . Download the Storm Shield Weather Radio App for your iPhone or Android device and get severe weather alerts wherever you are. Named by Time.com one of the best weather apps for your iPhone.