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Watch the Enormous El Niño Growing in the Pacific Right Now

With California trapped in a drought that's lasted about four years now, the state is alternately hoping for and fearing a big, rainy El Niño weather event this winter (which could help with the drought while also causing lots of its own problems). There are signs that a huge one is coming, but there are also obstacles, one of the biggest being the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, a high pressure zone that's been blamed in part for keeping storms away and helping the drought stick around. This video from the visualization lab of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (an association of more than 100 colleges that runs the National Center for Atmospheric Research) is definitely going to rile everyone up. The video (via LA Observed) compares the "historic" (meaning huge) 1997-1998 El Niño to the one that's forming now, showing their growth side by side. Watching the two events next to each other, the video's creator says, "I was a little shocked just how closely 2015 resembles 1997 visually."

"While it's too early to say if the current El Niño will live up to the hype," says a blog post from UCAR introducing the video, it is gearing up to be one of the strongest of these weather phenomena in history, and could even be stronger than its legendary 1997-1998 predecessor. Demonstrating this, the video charts the rising sea surface temperatures for the 1997-1998 event and the temperatures now, because those "are key to gauging the strength of an El Niño, which is marked by warmer-than-average waters."

· Watch 2015 and 1997 El Niños Build, Side by Side [UCAR]
· Meet the Two Weather Phenomena Battling This Winter For the Future of the California Drought [Curbed LA]
· Only 12 to 20 More Of These Storms And the Drought is Over! [Curbed LA]
· Could SoCal's Cool May Become a Drought-Relieving Winter? [Curbed LA]