If you live in North America, you may have heard about the upcoming El Niño season. Predicted to be one of the strongest on record, the powerful weather event will flip the script on the usual winter weather. On the West Coast, thirsty Californians should expect a warm, wet winter, providing some respite from oppressive drought. Unfortunately, even greater-than-average rainfall this year will not be sufficient to alleviate the drought crisis in California.
In order to correct for the extreme lack of rainfall that California has experienced for several years, the Golden State would need a extraordinarily helpful boost from El Niño “California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of drought and that’s unlikely,” says Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Even matching 1982’s record winter precipitation would not be enough to water to end the drought, says NOAA hydrologist Alan Haynes.
Residents of the Northeast and Great Lakes Region still shuddering from last winter will be glad to learn that the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts a warmer, slightly wetter season than average. This does not preclude significant snowfall, which has occurred slightly more frequently than average in strong El Niño years. However, this average may be skewed by a few particularly snowy seasons, such as the winter of 2009-10.
The effects of El Niño have historically not been limited to North America. As a result of the most recent strong El Niño in 1997-98, devastating drought was triggered in Indonesia and approximately 16% of the world’s coral reef systems were destroyed. Due to El Niño-influenced extreme rainfall in Kenya and Somalia that year, the region experienced a severe outbreak of Rift Valley fever. Though researchers are confident in their predictions for this year’s event, the specific effects and impacts in a warming climate are unknown.
Via Daily Mail