Thursday December 7, 2023

SF Gate

A strong El Niño developed in the fall and could strengthen even more in coming months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The pattern is predicted to be a driving factor of weather across the globe and has left Californians wondering how El Niño will affect winter conditions.

A series of maps released last week by NOAA may offer some clues. The maps depict precipitation data from the seven strongest El Niño events since 1950 and show the odds are tilted slightly in favor of above-normal precipitation in California, especially in Southern California, said Nat Johnson, a NOAA meteorologist who conducted the analysis and created the maps. But it’s not a guarantee; parts of California have seen normal or below-normal precipitation in strong El Niño years.

“I think specifically [the data] shows that there are a wide range of outcomes that can happen for California because the chaotic weather variability has so much impact,” Johnson told SFGATE. “For California specifically, in the winter time, you get a large amount of your seasonal precipitation often in a small number of storms, atmospheric rivers that dump a lot of precipitation. It’s hard to predict the details of these atmospheric rivers.”

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