A historic El Niño that is shaping up in the Pacific is threatening a wet winter for drought-stricken Southern California, weather forecasters said.
On Thursday, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that an El Niño ocean-warming cycle is building up in the Pacific that is expected to be stronger that the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California. NOAA said there is a strong 90 percent chance the El Niño would linger until winter, reported Times of San Diego.
An El Niño ocean-warming cycle is strengthening in the Pacific and could produce a wet winter for drought-stricken Southern California.
NOAA said in its latest weather prediction, "Nearly all models predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with many multi-model averages predicting a strong event."
Japan's Himawari 8 Weather Satellite also provided stunning images showing a full bloom El Niño developing in the Pacific upon its activation on Tuesday, said USA Today.
Monica Woods, chief meteorologist at News10-KXTV was quoted as saying, "Almost all models are showing consistency that we're seeing a stronger and stronger tendency for that to hold in place through the winter season. It could rival that of 1997."
Last week, powerful cyclones and typhoons hit Asia, including the Philippines and China that shifted the trade winds from west to east, which caused the warm sub-surface water to be pushed toward the coast of South America. Scientists said these enhances the El Niño event to last at through the fall.
"What we want is just enough water to come in slowly enough for the watersheds to hold that," Woods said. "The nice thing is that so many of them are dry that they have the capacity, but the flip side of that is, as anybody knows in a desert climate, is that terrain is just parched and so a lot of that can be runoff if those storms are too warm."
Climatologist said the El Niño could end California's historic drought but this could also lead to the worst flooding since 1997.
Woods continued, "Yes, El Niño's great, and it could provide us with relief and replenish some of these reservoirs. The flip side of that is it could mean catastrophic flooding, too."
An El Niño occurs when the normal surface temperature over the Pacific Ocean increases by an average of more than half a degree centigrade. The event is usually blamed for the wetter winters in the southwest United States, as well as central and southern California.
Since July 1, weathermen have noticed an increase in the ocean's temperatures by more than one degree above the normal level.
El Niño is the warm phase of a periodic warming and cooling of the Pacific off South America. This cycle is officially called the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The term El Niño is a Spanish word meaning the Christ child. The weather phenomenon was named such because fishermen observed that ocean water usually warms around Christmas time.