With the strong weather the nation has experienced this summer and the increase in precipitation in Southern California, the El Niño conditions that have persisted will likely foreshadow a wetter winter and possibly spring seasons. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a press release last week that there is now a 90 percent chance that El Niño will last through the winter and an 80 percent chance it will last into spring 2016.
Philip Gonsalves, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in San Diego, said El Niño conditions since springtime have been evidence of an incoming El Niño weather event.
“The best that we can tell is that the temperature distribution affects a response in the atmosphere,” Gonsalves said. “It’s a complex, and not entirely understood, process. Typically the jetstream reorients further south and adjusts the storm track. Instead of the Pacific Northwest getting a series of winter storms throughout the late fall and winter, a lot of that ends up in central and southern California.”
Gonzalves said when these significant storms hit the coastline they can cause beach erosion in some places and minor coastal flooding. Signs of a weather pattern came with warmer waters when pelagic crabs washed ashore last month in the area.
Gonsalves said the forecast is for the El Niño conditions to at least persist and possibly strengthen through the next several months.
“An El Niño condition in the equatorial Pacific is not a determining factor for rainfall, but it is a contributing factor,” Gonsalves said. “The longer it persists without much weakening, the better our chances are that we will get a heavy rainfall. We express it in terms of probability.”