El Niño could spell mild winter for region

If you’re not shoveling as much snow this winter, you can thank El Nino.

State climatologist Jim Angel says with such a strong El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean this winter, the jet stream will likely stay to the north of Illinois, meaning you won’t be subject to the extreme cold similar to the 2014 “polar vortex.” Less snowfall is expected, though Angel warns that even in mild winters, blizzards are still possible.

“Sometimes those things…there’s so much of a winter event that things just line up perfectly that you could get a real winter storm right in the middle of a very mild winter,” Angel said.

Angel says the last El Nino winter was 1997-98, which he describes as “very boring” with a few winter storms early and late in the season. The National Climactic Data Center says Illinois recorded its warmest February ever that year.

El Nino is already having an effect on the state’s current weather, leading to temperatures will above normal for this time of year.