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Chance of El Nino Still Ahead, but Can It Help California?

The Climate Prediction Center sticks with its prediction for a weak El Nino over the winter, keeping alive at least some hope of drought-easing rain.
Image: Gardeners paint green dye onto drought-affected grass in Santa Fe Springs, California
Drew McClellan and wife Deb paint green dye onto drought-affected grass at a home in Santa Fe Springs, California, on October 1.MIKE BLAKE / Reuters

An El Niño weather phenomenon could develop in the next month or so, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. But will it bring enough rain to ease drought in California and the Southwest? Unfortunately, the center said, even though the effect probably will last into next spring, it "will likely remain weak." In a blog post about the monthly forecast, NOAA said that’s “essentially unchanged” from the previous month’s prediction.

In an El Niño, surface waters in the Pacific warm, and that can bring heavy rains to the United States. In September, NASA said two Kelvin waves — areas of higher sea levels indicating warmer waters — were moving across the Pacific at the equator toward South America. In its post Thursday, NOAA said a Kelvin wave over the past week was moving warmer water to the eastern Pacific.



— Gil Aegerter