1. Why “El Niño”?

The “El Niño” name came from the 1800s when a Peruvian fisherman, first noticed a mysterious warm current that would appear around Christmas. They called it the “little boy” or “Christ child.”

2. Stronger this year?

In March of 2015, announcement came that a weak El Niño had formed in the Pacific, but many experts thought it would fizzle in the summer. Instead, El Niño has continued growing stronger and warmer water temperatures have already affected marine life near Ecuador this summer. Since the 50’s, when modern weather analyzing equipment was invented, there have been two especially strong bouts of El Niño recorded: ’92-’93 and ’97-’98.

3. Warmer water?

By definition, El Niño is officially declared when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rise 0.5°C. Usually the temperature of Pacific waters increases about 2.6% but experts expect an increase of up to 5.5% this year. The warmer water disrupts the normal upwelling of nutrients from cooler depths, and the food chain in the ocean is thrown off. Therefore, some marine species will migrate, some will have nothing to eat and some will die.

4. More rain?

Ecuador saw heavy rains with El Niño ‘82-‘83. The rain spurred plant growth, which attracted swarms of grasshoppers. That was followed by a surge in toad and bird populations. The wetness caused a huge increase in mosquitoes and, subsequently, an uptick in malaria. Also in the Galápagos Islands, sea levels rose and washed away the green and red algae that Marine iguanas normally feed on, causing a severe decline in the population as many faced starvation. Galapagos seaweed Bifurcaria Galapagensis, once widespread, was hit impacted even stronger during the same time and is now presumed to be extinct. The iguana population has since recovered.

5. When?

Water temperatures have already changed off the coast of Ecuador but experts are predicting the major impact to start in late fall 2015, last through the winter and into the spring of 2016.

6. What can we do?

Because heavy rainfalls can cause urban flooding, mud slides and downed trees that may prevent you from moving around the city, it is important to be prepared in your home with flashlights, batteries, clean water and non-perishable food items. Also, if you own your home, make sure that drains and water collection ways are clear of debris.

Know the facts and be prepared, but don’t worry. Hot or cold, rain or shine, adventure in Ecuador is waiting for you. Plan a trip and have fun. Enjoy life!

Written By: Betsy Maria D.