El Niño Update 2015: Shades of 1997 and Now Beyond

It's now official: El Niño 2015 is now the strongest in recorded history!

This after new measurements found that sea surface temperature in the central eastern Pacific are 7% higher than the week ago. A reading that in turn had tied the high mark set by the '97 El Niño.

It's a huge jump in just one week and now scientists watching suggest only growth for this years El Niño. While trying to figure the course of the extreme rains driven by this El Niño will be harder than ever before, evidence continues to grow suggesting that this seasons storms are likely to be much bigger and sometimes longer in duration than we have seen in years.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said this El Niño was already "strong and mature" and the biggest in more than 15 years.

Bill Patzert, climatologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, told the LA Times this week that "This thin is still growing and it's definitely warmer than it was in 1997," As far as temperature reading go, "it's now bypassed the previous champ of the modern satellite era - the 1997 El Nino has just been toppled by 2015".

The phenomenon is driven by warm surface water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and this time three-month averages will peak at more than 2 degrees Celsius above normal, putting this El Niño in the same league as those seen in 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98, the WMO said.

What does this mean for Southern California? The good news? We are much better prepared for this El Niño than before. County agencies have already put disaster management plans in place for the most likely affected areas, our local coast and foothill communities.

Typically, El Nino events reach their maximum strength between October and January, but often continue to wreak havoc though the first quarter of the year.

While this likely means more rain for us, other parts of the world like India, Indonesia and Australia are left drier, increasing chances of wildfires and lower crop production.

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