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Before we even go there, yes it's true that sometimes El Nino forecasts can be a total bust.
Famously, the last big one did the exact opposite of what we were thinking. Around the world, the El Nino of 2015-16 was spot on, but not in California, and that is what we remember.
With that out of the way, let's look ahead to the current status of El Nino. For a quick primer, El Nino is when the central Pacific at the equator is warmer than normal. When this happens, it can alter some common patterns and you can get wet areas, and areas of drought. You could also get large fires in Indonesia and coral bleaching, among other phenomena.
As of early November, the water in the prime Nino 3.4 zone is warm enough to be considered El Nino, it just needs to stay at that level for a few months for it to be official. There has been a big spike of even warmer water moving in, so it should have no problem becoming official and even has a chance of getting stronger.
What happens next is the whole point of the forecast for California. The typical textbook forecast leans to more rain for Southern California, and less for the Pacific Northwest. Northern California is somewhere in the middle, however if we get a big one, you tend to see more rain for the whole West Coast.
The stats back this up, and when you see the Climate Prediction Center issue the winter forecast, some version is usually what it is based on. You also tend to see warmer weather for the West Coast because this year, the whole Pacific is just straight up warm, so the air moving in is warmer.
If this pans out, it could be great for the most drought impacted region, the Southwest. Right now, there are major water restrictions looming for many western states that use water from the Colorado River. If El Nino stays on track, that could really help out that region.
We will continue to watch the development of El NIno to help guide is in the dry pattern to better days of rain and snow that we need.
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