Is El Niño Arriving To Save The Day?

The late great Chris Farley would likely be intrigued by the possible return of El Niño to hopefully California’s drough woes. Even a massive rain-fueled El Niño hasn’t been projected to fully rescue the state of its historically low rainfall totals and snowpack.

But CBS News reported the coming of the meteorolgical phenonmeon could be one avenue to an eventual restoration of California’s water:

“This is as close as you’re going to get to a sure thing,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, calling this El Nino “too big to fail.”

“In the abstract,” he said, “El Nino seems like our savior.” But if floods and mudslides develop, it’s “not going to look like the great wet hope charging across the landscape on a white horse.”

A strong El Nino arrives about once every 20 years. Ocean temperatures show this one to be the second-strongest since such record keeping began in 1950, said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. That would make it weaker than the El Nino of 1997–98 but stronger than the El Nino of 1982–83.

Both of those winters were known in California for relentless rain, strong winds and heavy snow. Waves pounded the coast, mudslides rolled down mountainsides and floods swamped homes and claimed lives.

Storms blamed on El Nino in 1997–98 killed at least 17 people, wiped out strawberry and artichoke crops, pushed houses off hillside foundations and washed out highways. Damage was estimated at more than $500 million. …

Weather models this year show a 60 percent chance of above-average rainfall in Southern California, but that figure declines farther north, Boldt said.

From the San Francisco Bay Area to Sequoia National Park, there’s a 50 percent chance of above-average rainfall. From Eureka to north of Reno, Nevada, that estimate drops to 33 percent. It’s likely to be drier in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rocky Mountains.


Originally published at calsportsmanmag.com