Is El Niño's rainmaking reputation overblown?

El Niño does cause above-average rainfall in some areas like California and the southern U.S., but the increases are generally modest.

Wet/dry impacts vary significantly depending on the type and location of each El Niño event.

Rainfall changes attributable directly to El Niño are often within the range of normal year-to-year variations.

Other weather patterns like the Madden-Julian Oscillation have a larger influence on precipitation than El Niño in some regions.

El Niño's drying effects in places like Australia, Indonesia and Brazil are generally stronger than its wetting ability elsewhere.

1. Above-average rain occurs in large part due to changes in storm tracks, not directly due to warmer oceans.

Forecast skill for predicting regional precipitation impacts from El Niño is generally low.

While El Niño influences weather worldwide, its overall contribution to specific wet/dry outcomes at local scales may be exaggerated.

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