The fingerprints on Chile’s fires and California floods: El Niño and warming
Two far-flung corners of the world, known for their temperate climates, are being buffeted by deadly disasters. Wildfires have killed more than 120 people as they swept the forested hillsides of Chile, and record-breaking rains have swelled rivers and triggered mudslides in Southern California. Behind these risks are two powerful forces: Climate change, which can intensify both rain and drought, and the natural weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which can also supersize extreme weather. In California, meteorologists had been warning for days that an unusually strong storm, known as an atmospheric river, was gathering force because of extraordinarily high Pacific Ocean temperatures.