El Niño could wreak havoc across the world this winter

El Niño Could Wreak Havoc Across The World This Winter

El Niño is back with a vengeance. The weather system -- that was somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the '90s -- recently broke through California's long-time drought causing heavy rains, flooding and landslides.

These dangerous weather conditions sweeping through the west coast are indicative of an intense El Niño event to come this winter.

"The presence of a strong El Niño almost ensures that 2015 will become the warmest on record for Earth and will have ripple effects on weather patterns all over the world," reports The Washington Post.

But what is El Niño anyway? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sums them up as "complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific."

See photos of the El Niño phenomenon:

El Nino's effects
See Gallery
El Niño could wreak havoc across the world this winter
NOAA has released an update to its El Niño advisory. This image shows the satellite sea surface temperature departure for the month of October 2015, where orange-red colors are above normal temperatures and are indicative of El Niño. This event is forecast to continue through the winter, likely ranking as one of the top 3 strongest events since 1950, before fading in late spring or early summer. El Niño has already produced significant global impacts, and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months. Seasonal outlooks generally favor below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States. (Photo via NOAA)
MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Two girls are seen walk behind of dried up ricefield at Manggara Bombang village, Maros district on September 21, 2015 in Makassar, Indonesia. Indonesia's national disaster management agency has declared that the majority of the country's 34 provinces are experiencing drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the worst drought in the past five years. The dry season forces villagers to walk long distances to find clean water. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
NOAA issued an update to the El Niño analysis on September 10, 2015, in which forecasters from the Climate Predication Center say a strong El Niño is in place and likely to peak in late fall/early winter, and gradually weaken through spring 2016. This image shows the satellite-based average sea surface temperature data from the week of August 31 - September 6, 2015. Blue areas are cooler than the 1981-2010 average; red areas are warmer than that historical base period. The large pool of warmer than average temperatures along the equatorial Pacific is indicative of the El Niño conditions. (Photo via NOAA)
Sea surface temperature anomalies in November 1997 (left) compared to July 2015 (right). (Photo via NOAA)
A couple tries to cool off from the heat caused by El Nino with water overflowing from a defunct but still watery reservoir called the Wawa dam in Montalban in Rizal, east of Manila on February 21, 2010. El Niño was expected to dehydrate the Metro Manila area over in the next two months, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Earlier this month the government warned a possible drought caused by the El Nino weather system could slash Philippines rice yields this year. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tons of dead fish are seen on the banks of the Solimoes River due the water's low level, November 25, 2009 near Manaquiri, 120Km from Manaus. The dry season, affected by the weather phenomenon EL Nino, is worse this year. According a study from Brazil's universities USP,UNICAMP,UFRJ and Embrapa, the country could lose some USD 3.6 billion over the next 40 years. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavy clouds covers Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta on November 29, 2009. The month of November ends the dry season and starts the wet period but the weather bureau anticipates El Nino's dry spell to affect Indonesian weather. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

The NOAA predicts that there is a 90-percent chance of a strong El Niño system this winter.

What we're seeing in Southern California is just a precursor to the main event this winter.

This chart from the Washington Post compares the current El Niño event with the one from the late '90s - and it's shaping up to be even worse.

CBS Los Angeles reports "the predicted El Niño rains could result in excessive stress on levees, roads and hillsides that have started to dry and crack in California's historic drought."

And a climatologist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tells the LA Times: "Be careful what you wish for. Great droughts usually end in great floods."

More from AOL.com:
Wisconsin governor implements intense 20-week abortion ban
3-year-old girl tragically fell to her death from balcony on Disneyland vacation
Police misconduct in man's death unlikely, prosecutor says

Read Full Story