A Historical Perspective on El Niño

December to February Strong El Niño Precipitation Percent of Average Composite Map of Six Events

To help understand the potential impacts of the current El Niño event across the contiguous United States, we’ve created a website to provide data and information on historical events of similar strengths, which include those that occurred in 1957–1958, 1965–1966, 1972–1973, 1982–1983, 1991–1992, and 1997–1998. The website includes general information about El Niño as well as temperature and precipitation anomaly maps and time series for these historical events. For some months and seasons, temperature and precipitation varied greatly across the country among these six events.

Although no two El Niño events are the same, they can directly and indirectly affect the weather pattern across the United States. The impacts of El Niño are typically largest in the U.S. during the cool months from October through May. During the winter season, the southern half of the country—from California to the Southern Plains, as well as along the East Coast—typically receives above-average precipitation. Below-average temperatures also often accompany this above-average precipitation in these regions. Across the northern half of the country, the winter season tends to be warmer and drier than average, particularly in the Northwest, Northern Plains, and Ohio Valley.

Visit our El Niño 2015/16: A Historical Perspective website to learn more about this event and see how past strong El Niño events have affected weather in the contiguous United States between October and May.

For the most up-to-date information on current conditions, please visit the Climate Prediction Center's El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) page and our ENSO Teleconnections page.

For more information on El Niño, visit: