You’ve been hearing about El Niño all year – with ocean temperatures around 2°C above normal throughout the year, all the signs were there. But all spring, we were cautioned against getting too optimistic about the prospects for a drought quenching winter in Southern California. Each update from NOAA included the caveat that essentially, things can quickly change…just like they did in 2014.
But as we enter September, now with only 20 days left of summer, climate experts are basically “all in”. We’re almost certainly going to experience a significant El Niño this winter, with conditions actually forecasted to strengthen all the way through at least November!
The California Weather Blog has been on top of all NOAA forecasts and climate models, and issued the following summation in their recent El Niño blog;
Right now, an “ensemble” consisting of all major national and international climate models suggests a high likelihood that the present El Niño will eventually become the strongest on record, surpassing even 1997-1998 in terms of ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. Even if this event does not become the superlative event in the historical record, it’s virtually certain that it will end up in the top three.
And while they expand to caution that even a record breaking El Niño doesn’t necessarily equate to a wet winter, they do say that almost all of the models are showing the strongest California winter precipitation signal in years. El Niño doesn’t really directly equate to rain, although in San Diego we tend to associate El Niño exactly as such.
The last major El Niño, in 1997-1998 was attributed with an extremely wet winter in San Diego – one that saw several of the county’s major lakes spill over. Remember the footage of fish washing right over the dam at Lake Hodges?
It’s likely that is indeed what we’re headed for this year — and the lakes desperately need it. Lake levels are at all time lows in San Diego for the most part, especially Morena, Sutherland and Barrett which are at the outskirts of the county’s water system. If what is left of those fisheries is to survive, this El Niño better pan out in terms of precipitation.
Source: California Weather Blog