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Could The Central And South Coasts Be Impacted By Another La Nina, And Below Average Rainfall?

Last rainfall season was a big one for the Central and South Coasts, with above average rainfall for many drought impacted local communities.

Oxnard had 135% of average rainfall, Ojai 121%, and Lake Cachuma recorded136% of normal rainfall.  But, could we be headed back to a drought year? 

There are some early indications it’s a possibility, with a nearly 50-50 chance of us being impacted by a "La Nina" pattern of cooler ocean water in the Western Pacific.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a “La Nina” watch.  NOAA’s climatologists say there’s a 50 to 55% chance of a La Nina in the fall or winter, opening the door for a drier than average rainfall season. 

But, the federal researchers also suggest there is a 40% to 45% chance we’ll remain in a neutral mode this rainfall season, with no La Nina or El Nino.  And, there’s a very remote chance, in the 5% to 10% range, of an El Nino.

One of the world’s leading climatologists says it’s too soon to say.

Dr. Bill Patzert has been studying “El Nino” and “La Nina” patterns for decades.  He says we’ve had some encouraging rainfall the past two years, but not nearly enough to full break drought conditions.  Patzert says groundwater basins have been largely drained by years of drought.

Patzert says we are still learning about the weather altering phenomenon, and right now the chances of a La Nina are like a coin standing on its edge.  It could fall either way.

The oceanographer says the reality is in the Western United States we need to always think and be prepared for drought.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.