What created the Fort McMurray wildfire?

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CANADA – Too much rain in summer? Blame global warming.

Too little rain? Blame global warming.

Heck, even if there’s a chinook in January in southern Alberta, blame global warming.

Just ask actor Leonardo di Caprio.

It was no surprise then when a wildfire raged in the oilsands city of Fort McMurray, the first response from many was to blame global warming. But climate scientist Paul Roundy of the University at Albany in New York state says global warming wasn’t the main culprit in the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Instead, Roundy blames El Niño, a weather phenomenon that’s been around for ages.

El Niño events come every two to seven years, based on fluctuations in the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean around the equator. The latest event started early last summer and has been massive. “By some measures it was the strongest ever recorded,” Roundy says.

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