An El Nino is a climatic phenomenon occurring irregularly, but generally every 3 to 5 years. El Ninos often first become evident during the Christmas season (El Nino means Christ child) in the surface oceans of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
The phenomenon involves seasonal changes in the direction of the tropical winds over the Pacific and abnormally warm surface ocean temperatures. The changes in the tropics are most intense in the Pacific region, these changes can disrupt weather patterns throughout the tropics and can extend to higher latitudes, especially in Central and North America. The relationship between these events and global weather patterns are currently the subject of much research in order to enhance prediction of seasonal to interannual fluctuations in the climate.