5 things about El Niño: Biggest effects yet to come

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Meteorologist Johnny Burg, with the National Weather Service, said recent California storms, although impressive, were probably not related to El Niño, which is a warming in the Pacific Ocean that can alter weather dramatically. 

While we wait for the big effects to hit U.S. cities, here are five ways the current El Niño is getting ready to hit and how it has already affected climates in other areas of the world. 

1) Biggest impact on California starts after New Year

A climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told the Los Angeles Times El Niño is expected to hit hard in California after the New Year. From then until March, Patzert said, Californians are likely to experience “mudslides, heavy rainfall, one storm after another like a conveyor belt.” 

2) Pacific hurricanes were more active than usual

Blame El Niño for a powerful eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season. Hurricane Patricia hit landfall in Mexico as a Category 5 storm at the end of October.

3) Some desert areas have been deluged

The Chilean desert - one of the world’s driest - is blooming with flowers because of high rainfall from El Niño.

4) Pending food crises around the world blamed on drought 

El Niño is associated with drought in Indonesia and the Philippines. As well, drought in eastern and southern Africa associated with El Niño will result in hunger and disease along with the lack of water.

Food crises will also result from drought blamed, in part, on El Nino, in Central America where the storms that usually soak the jungles have shifted northward to California.

5) Epic surfing along with battered beach homes

The surge in surf associated with past El Ninos has led to epic surfing seasons. It also leads to coastal property damage. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.