A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Pacific Ocean surface temperatures continue to warm near the equator – setting up what could be one of the most powerful El Nino’s on record. There is now a 90 percent chance that El Nino conditions will last into winter, up from a 50 percent chance four months ago.
El Nino’s affect the jet stream, creating an atmospheric anomaly that can impact weather patterns around the globe. They are often associated with higher-than average rainfall in the southwestern U.S, including California.
Whether that translates into drought-busting rainfall remains to be seen – but hopes are as high as they have been in years for the possibility of a wet winter to come. This year’s El Nino has already helped Texas beat back its drought. Scientists say the conditions are reminiscent of the winter of 1997-98, when a series of wet storms pounded the state, dumping nearly twice California’s average rainfall.
In the past, El Ninos have also brought flooding, mudslides, dangerous surf and other minor catastrophes to the state. But here’s guessing that’s a risk most California would be willing to accept if it helps bring an end to the drought.