SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — If 2015 was the year El Nino conditions never came, 2016 may be the year California’s long-awaited wet weather pattern finally arrives.
Forecasters had predicted a major El Nino event in 2014, with above average rain totals. Those models proved wrong. The equatorial waters of the Pacific did heat up, but they never produced any reaction in the sky. California plunged into record drought conditions.
Now, some scientists are predicting the possibility of a drought-busting El Nino event by 2016. Researchers at Colorado State University say El Nino has arrived and predict it will strengthen substantially in the coming months.
“Although absolutely not a guarantee of any kind, signs are pointing more and more toward the possibility of a moderate-to-strong El Nino event next winter,” said KPIX 5 meteorolgist Paul Deanno. “It’s too late to put a decent dent in the drought this water year but the author of a Washington Post article suggests hope may be closer than we think.”
Colorado State researcher Phil Klotzbach says the tropical atmosphere and ocean conditions appear more favorable now compared to last year.
“The upper ocean heat content is higher,” Klotzbach told the Washington Post. “This means that there is more fuel for the El Nino to develop. In addition, upper and lower-level winds are more El Nino-like, especially when you look at the longer-term average.”
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center shows a 33% chance of above average precipitation by the end of the year, and into 2016. There’s a 10% chance of rainfall totals above 32 inches.