SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – There's a strong chance the rain that's drenching Texas and the Southern Plains will be heading to California if the current El Nino pattern continues to strengthen, according to scientists.
El Nino occurs when the equatorial waters of the Pacific ocean heat up. Climate experts say "El Nino conditions are present" and very likely to remain throughout the year.
Last week, The Climate Prediction Center issued an advisory stating "there is a 90% chance El Nino will continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer 2015, and a greater than 80% chance it will last through 2015."
"Currently, we have a relatively weak El Niño in progress, but we expect it to become moderate to strong progressing this coming fall and winter," says Ben Noll, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. "During an El Niño pattern, we tend to get a number of storms in the upper atmosphere that pump moisture into Texas and parts of the Plains," said Noll.
So far this month, Texas has received more than twice their normal rainfall in May. Drought conditions have stagnated over that state since 2012.
So far, the weak El Nino has brought sporadic rain to California, but that could change later this year.
The climate prediction models here indicate 'above average' rainfall is anticipated in Southern California (area in green) by summer and the pattern continues through the fall and winter months.
"When we do have a strong El Nino, it's like the atmosphere on steroids," says Jan Null a meterologist for Golden Gate Weather Services. "It increases the chances of having above normal rainfall. No guarantees in this business, though, with an El Nino because that's not the only thing going on in the atmosphere."
Climatologists caution that even a strong El Nino won't end California's drought. It will certainly help, though.
"It's better to have a forecast now that we are looking at a stronger El Nino than one looking at a weak or no El Nino," says Null. "It's going in the right direction. It's just too early to draw any real strong conclusions."
KPIX 5 meteorologist Roberta Gonzales agrees.
"Predicting a strong EL Nino is certainly exciting and favorable, however, I strongly believe it's way too early to forecast such extreme weather. The Climate Prediction Center was very excited this time last year for our winter 2024-2015 and we all know how that panned out," she said.
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