Tuesday October 17, 2023

SF Gate

El Niño is expected to gain strength and flaunt its muscle this winter, and forecasters are closely watching ocean temperatures to determine just how strong the El Niño weather pattern that developed over the summer will get in the coming months.

The El Niño forecast is always of particular interest in California, where it has near-celebrity status. The state has seen some of its wettest winters in El Niño years, such as the winters of 1982-83 and 1997-98, and many in California associate the weather phenomenon with flooding, mudslides and massive snowpacks. But researchers say the state can also see above- or below-normal precipitation in an El Niño year, as it did in 2015-16.

“The El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern is, by itself, not a good predictor of wet or dry years for California,” Michael Anderson, state climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources, wrote in an email.

“We have had El Niño events that brought us above normal precipitation, and we’ve also had El Niño years when we’ve seen notably drier conditions,” added Sean Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

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