El Niño could significantly slow down U.S. supply chain this winter — FreightWaves

El Niño could significantly slow down U.S. supply chain this winter — FreightWaves

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El Niño, and its counterpart, La Niña, are opposite phases of a very prominent climate pattern called the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. These are naturally occurring climate patterns related to changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures along the equator, between the International Dateline and the west coast of South America. These patterns are large enough to affect weather across the world.

The typical life cycle of El Niño/La Niña is nine to 12 months, and, on average, they occur every three to five years. They often develop in mid- to late-summer or during the fall. In the U.S. we see the most significant impacts from winter into the spring.

It’s important to keep in mind that these impacts are not the same from one El Niño/La Niña to the next. They vary in geographical scope as well as intensity, and intensity isn’t always easy to forecast. However, with surface temperatures increasing in the Pacific Ocean, meteorologists agree that an El Niño of some degree is coming this time around.

If this El Niño pans out the way meteorologists think, the Pacific jet stream will dip significantly farther southward than normal. This means people in portions of the West, Southwest, and Mountain Prairie trucking freight regions would get desperately needed rain, particularly in the Four Corners where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet.

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