The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) last week issued a warning that a likely El Niño this summer could result in drastically elevated temperatures breaking previous heat records. Estimates suggest a 60% chance of El Niño arriving by the end of June, jumping to 80% by the beginning of the fall. The WMO says not to expect the full impact of El Niño until 2024.

”This will change the weather and climate patterns worldwide,” Wilfran Moufouma Okia, the head of the WMO’s regional climate prediction services division, told reporters in Geneva.

La Niña, which cools the earth’s temperature, has been present since 2020, despite the fact that the past global temperatures have risen steadily over the past eight years.

“We just had the eight warmest years on record, even though we had a cooling La Niña for the past three years and this acted as a temporary brake on global temperature increase. The development of an El Niño will most likely lead to a new spike in global heating and increase the chance of breaking temperature records,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

Warmer sea temperatures associated with El Niño can result in an acceleration in extreme weather events.

NPR reports that El Nino could push the Pacific jet stream south, causing the northern US and Canada to become warmer and dryer, whereas in the Southeast and along the Gulf Coast there would be more rain and increased flooding.

“The world should prepare for the development of El Niño, which is often associated with increased heat, drought or rainfall in different parts of the world. It might bring respite from the drought in the Horn of Africa and other La Niña- related impacts but could also trigger more extreme weather and climate events. This highlights the need for the UN Early Warnings for All initiative to keep people safe,” said Prof. Taalas.