The U.S. Southwest has been in a drought since 2000 — in fact, it’s been the region’s driest period in 1,200 years. Many researchers have labeled this exceptionally dry period a “megadrought.”
At the same time, an “exceptionally strong” El Niño event is now 95% likely to last through at least February 2024.
“It has global consequences,” said Erika Wise, a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Some places have floods, some places have droughts, some places are warm, some places are cool. The Southwest has one of the more reliable responses to El Niño, even though it’s pretty far away, which is that it tends to be wetter in El Niño years,” she told Live Science.