It's here! El Nino is back. But, will it mean above normal rainfall for the Tri-Counties?
A leading climatologist says it's too soon to say. But, Dr. Bill Patzert cautions that an El Nino pattern doesn't necessarily mean above average rainfall.
Is torrential rainfall coming to the Tri-Counties? There are signs an El Nino pattern, which could mean heavy rain, might be the latest thing to impact us in what’s been a very strange year weather-wise.
First, there was the heavy rain. Then, the La Nina pattern we had for the last three years disappeared. It's been followed by a wet, and mild spring which is still continuing even though the start of summer is just weeks away. Now, experts say warming ocean water temperatures around the Equator show development of an El Nino pattern.
"We have the beginnings of that famous nemesis El Nino developing," said Dr. Bill Patzert, who is an oceanographer and climatologist. He spent decades studying La Nina and El Nino weather patters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena.
"Don't hyperventilate," said Patzert. "The El Nino is weak, and we'll have to watch it very carefully over the summer, because remember, the real impacts in California and many other places around the planet will be manifested this fall and winter."
He says after being a part of our weather pattern for the last few years, La Nina, which typically means less rainfall than average, suddenly disappeared in March.
National Weather Service meteorologists are putting the changes of a moderate El Nino at 84%, and a strong one at 56%. But, Patzert cautions it’s really too soon to tell.
The oceanographer points out that even if we have an El Nino, it doesn’t automatically translate into torrential rainfall.
"The fiction is that every El Nino is a drencher for Southern California," said Patzert. In 2014, and 2015, the El Nino signal in the tropics was immense, but we had below normal rainfall."
Patzert also points out that having a La Nina doesn’t automatically mean we'll have a drier than average rainfall season, as shown by what happened this year.
Does Patzert have a prediction? "It's not ready, set, El Nino yet." He said we'll know more by the end of summer.