Question submitted by Gregg
Ah, El Niño! Gotta love this little guy!
First off, a definition: El Niño is the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters, which usually occurs on average every two to five years and typically lasts about 12 months.
And yes, most scientists now expect this El Niño event to continue developing during through the next several months, with further strengthening possible. So essentially the event is expected to last through winter 2009-10.
There's an excellent article on this at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090709_elnino.html.
The big issue for us here on the west coast, with these events, is the change in the precipitation patterns - namely our snowfall patterns. Unfortunately there is very little concise evidence to show that we historically see either more or less snow during an El Niño event.