Chances for a wet winter in Central and Southern California improved in recent weeks as the NOAA Climate Prediction Center indicates the likelihood an El Nino pattern will persist through winter. The forecasters say warming tropical Pacific waters this summer means a switch from a La Nina last winter into an El Nino pattern by September.
“El Niño is favored beginning in July-September 2012 and continuing through Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13.”says the agency statement.
The strength of the El Nino remains in doubt however depending on how warm the equatorial Pacific waters get in coming months.
An El Nino tends to usher winter storms into California instead of the Pacific Northwest as the storm pattern was this past winter when much of Central California was well below average rainfall. Drought conditions can have a major effect on the state’s economy.
Competing models are predicting a modest El Nino while others suggest a strong pattern as a result of very warm water temps around the equator off the coast of South America.
The Climate Prediction Center maps(see above) for Jan/Feb/March show equal chances for average precipitation in areas on the map indicated in white and a 33% chance of wet conditions in the map’s light green areas and a higher 40% chance for wet weather in the dark green areas like Central and Southern California this winter from December through April.
The last El Nino pattern was in the winter of 2009/10