|Last month, we learned that El Niño conditions had developed for the first time in four years. But, you may wonder, what exactly is El Niño, and how did it get named? Here’s a quick overview. |
First, here’s the what. An El Niño is a periodic warming of a strip of water straddling the equator in the Pacific Ocean. NOAA officially declares that an El Niño has developed when sea-surface temperatures in a certain region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean have reached at least 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average for at least a month and are accompanied by changes in the atmosphere.
When this strip of water is persistently cooler or warmer over several months, it affects the circulation of the atmosphere, and can eventually help steer weather patterns in other parts of the world, including the tropics and the U.S. The stronger the El Niño (meaning, the higher its temperature above average), the more influence it could have.
On average, El Niño occurs every two to seven years, with episodes usually lasting between nine to 12 months. Its largest impacts usually occur during the winter. In the U.S., El Niño usually brings milder winter weather to the northern part of the country, and wetter winter weather to the South. However, El Niño can also impact summer weather and influence hurricane season.
How about the name? In Spanish, El Niño means “child,” or “the Christ child.” It was first used by fishermen in Ecuador and Peru to refer to the warm ocean current that usually appears around Christmastime and lasts several months. Since fish become more scarce during this time, fishermen would often take a break to spend time with their families and repair their equipment.
Happy National Ice Cream Month!
|A parade of paletas. (Carlos Chavez/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) |
|Did you know that July is not only National Ice Cream Month, but also home to National Ice Cream Day? That falls on the third Sunday of the month, which is coming up this weekend. To get you ready, we’ve combed through Yelp’s list of the top 100 ice cream shops in the U.S. and picked out a few trends to highlight that sound especially delicious. I’m hungry! |
Paleta is a Spanish word that means “small stick,” and Mexican-style paleta popsicles are rapidly gaining popularity. La Paleta in Las Vegas features 24 flavors of paletas and is singled out by Yelp as the top paleta destination in the country. Mango & Chamoy, Coconut, and Strawberries & Cream are the restaurant’s three most popular flavors.
Only one ice cream shop gets to be No. 1 in the nation, and Yelp picks Omaha, Nebraska’s, Coneflower Creamery for the coveted top spot. Started by two pastry chefs, everything served at Coneflower is made in house, from the ice cream to the cones, sauces and sprinkles. A favorite flavor? Sour Cream Pear Pie, made with preserved Anjou and Bartlett pears from a local farm swirled in a sour cream ice cream and packed with pie crust and brown butter streusel.
- Soft Serve
Gone are the days when soft serve was more fun to pour than to eat. Now, ice cream stores like Surfin’ Spoon in Nags Head, North Carolina, feature delicious, complicated soft-serve flavors like Chocolate Fudgesicle Gelato and Pomegranate Raspberry Sorbet.
|1913: Official World Record Temperature Set (Maybe) |
|Death Valley. (Siegfried Layda via Getty Images) |
|OK, we’re getting into a 110-year-old can of worms here, so I’m just going to cover the basics, with plenty of links for deeper digging. Here’s what’s certain: It was really hot in Death Valley, California, on today’s date in 1913. In fact, it was the hottest day of a seven-day hot spell in the area, with the temperature officially reaching a whopping 134 degrees Fahrenheit. |
However, this figure was challenged by extreme weather expert Christopher Burt in 2016. Burt says that it is possible to demonstrate that a temperature of 134°F in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, was essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective, and the measurement was likely due to observer error. Opponents of Burt’s theory say that it’s just an opinion, arguing that a record should be considered a record until it is officially decertified.