Experts predict current El Niño may be historically strong

When it's more than 100 degrees out, and we haven't had significant rain in years, it's tough to focus on a short term future of heavy rains, floods and mudslides here in Southern California, but that's what the meteorologists and climatologists were doing today.

They're warning of a strong El Niño, possibly stronger than the record of 1997. El Niño is one of those terms we hear all the time, maybe you're not sure what it is.To simplify, it's a warning of a wide band of ocean waters in the Eastern Pacific, mainly off South America, generally near the equator.

RELATED: Meteorologists Predict Strong El Niño Will Bring California Drought Relief

It results in the interruption of weather patterns over much of the world, which typically results in heavy rains in California. That would normally be good news for us, but the amount of rain we're talking about could be deadly, as it was in 1998 when some 17 people died in mudslides. Bill Patzert, the always colorful scientist from the Jet Propulsion Labs in La Canada Flintridge is already nicknaming what may come this fall and winter as ''Godzilla El Niño.''

The LA Times has done a long piece on this already. We in the media love nicknames so that will no doubt stick. Of course, we're talking long range forecasts, which aren't always accurate, and each El Niño is different, but scientists say in this case, with years of historical data and sophisticated computer modeling in use, the degree of certainty of their predictions, they say, approaches 90 percent.

Copyright 2015 FOX 11 Los Angeles: Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.