SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With California in desperate need for a wet winter to relieve the state’s drought, scientists with the National Weather Service said that the chance of an El Nino to develop later this year is less likely.

The scientists announced Thursday (.pdf) that the odds of an El Nino developing are now 65 percent, down from an 80 percent prediction in July.

“We’ve gone from an estimated 1-in-5 chance that we won’t have an El Niño to a nearly 1-in-3 chance,” said a post on the National Weather Service El Nino Blog Thursday.

The blog post went on to say that “65% is still almost twice the climatological likelihood – that is, the long-term average of how often we experience El Niño conditions – so forecasters are still predicting El Niño will develop.”

El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, is sometimes associated with increased rainfall in California. Strong El Nino winters, such as the one in 1997-98, caused massive flooding.

KPIX 5 meteorologist Paul Deanno said even if there is a wet winter, the water lost in the drought won’t be made up all at once. Over the last three years, the ground has missed out on 30 inches of water.


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