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Spring-like Holidays courtesy of El Niño: should we be glad or sad?

by Marie-Sarah Published on December 23, 2015

In many parts of Canada, the Holiday Season has been positively balmy compared to previous years. With above-seasonal temperatures that have barely dipped below zero and no snow on the ground, few Canadians have seen a White Christmas this year.

For many, this comes as welcome news, but should we be rejoicing at this unusual turn of events or fearing for the overall health of our planet?

Here are pros and cons of El Niño, starting with the pros of a milder-than-usual winter.

4 good things about El Niño

1- Nicer winter fashions. We can dress like Europeans usually do in winter and wear the kind of chic boots and light coats that we normally put away from December to March.

2- More time. No need to get up early to get snow off your car before heading to work!

3- Hassle-free jogging. Mild temps and no snow on the sidewalks are great for joggers!

4- Easier travel. Dry streets and highways make it so much easier to visit family members over the Holidays!

4 bad things about El Niño

1- More ice storms. Remember January 1998? The last time we had a Super El Niño like the one this year, Quebec and Ontario had the worst ice storm on record, with some people losing power for weeks.

2- More natural disasters around the globe. El Niño has different effects on different parts of the world. For example, it poses a greater risk for torrential rains and landslides in California, more Pacific typhoons, and more wildfires in Australia.

3- More unpredictable weather. If you’re planning a ski vacation in Northeastern Canada this winter, it’s hard to say whether or not it will be ruined. While El Niño is usually associated with milder weather and less snow in the Northeast, no two are alike, so it’s impossible to accurately predict what kind of weather we’re going to have.

4- Long-term effects on our planet. Despite some of the short-term benefits of an El Niño year, the long-term impacts of severe weather events brought on by climate change are more cause for concern than celebration. This is our first Super El Niño in almost 20 years. Not so bad, you might think, but to put this into context, polar ice sheets have melted faster in the past 20 years than in the last 1000. Let’s just hope that this Super El Niño doesn’t wreak as much havoc on our planet as the last one and that climate change doesn’t unleash as many extreme El Niño events as scientists fear it will.

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by Marie-Sarah

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