El Niño: Doesn't Mean Heavy Rain for Everyone

We here in Southern California are getting ready for El Niño. Experts predict above average rainfall for Southern California and much of the Southwest US. But El Niño doesn't mean everyone is going to get wet.

El Nino can have the opposite effect in Australia and Indonesia.

INTELECOM Intelligent Telecommunications produced a good Youtube Story on this a few years ago, I though worth sharing with you. They spoke with David Pierce of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD who offers a very good explainer on why we may get drenched during an El Nino year and other parts of the World that normally see Heavy rainfall in turn see the opposite effect, in this case no rain at all.


Back here in the States, El Niño may not be good news in the Pacific Northwest or even Northern California where we depend on a deep snowpack to bring water to Southern California in the Spring, Summer and Fall months.

El Niño tends to bring drier winters. The area affected in this manner includes Washington, Oregon, Northern California and the more mountainous portions of Idaho, western Montana and northwest Wyoming. This area of influence extends well up into Canada, and coincides very well with the Columbia River Basin on both sides of the U.S./Canada border.

With El Niño conditions, precipitation and temperature effects combine to accentuate the effect on snowfall. In the Southwest, there is a slight tendency toward cooler winters, and a strong tendency toward wet winters, which makes higher elevation snow pack deeper.

In the Pacific Northwest, El Niño winters are warmer and drier than usual, so that at a given elevation 1) less precipitation occurs, and 2) the freezing level is higher, so the type of precipitation is more likely to be rain, and 3) the accumulation season is shorter. All three conspire to produce a smaller snowpack accumulation by the end of winter in the Pacific Northwest.

Back here in Southern California, the conditions are right for a wet winter/spring with above average rainfall.

So for now we wait. Weather is not a certain science and forecast often change. Only time will tell.

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