Friday, March 06, 2015

NOAA: El Nino is 'too little, too late' for California drought

[LA Times] El Niño is here, but don't expect the Pacific Ocean circulation phenomenon to do much for the drought afflicting California and the western U.S., forecasters said Thursday.
"Unfortunately, this El Niño is likely too little, too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California, as California’s rainy season is winding down," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Halpert's comments came as NOAA, which runs the National Weather Service, announced that it had detected a weak "El Niño" phase to the cyclical oscillation of sea water temperature and atmospheric pressure in the tropical Pacific.
In previous years, El Niño has ferried more moisture toward Southern California, although the extent of its influence on regional weather has been debated.
Although Pacific Coast residents saw more storms in December and January, Halpert noted, most of these were not cold enough to contribute substantially to the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and other western ranges -- the most critical element of long-term water supply.
"This past year, December was very wet, but it was also very warm," Halpert said. "So the snow levels were very high and it really didn’t help." At this point, it might be time to “pack up the skis and hope for a better season next year," Halpert said.
The agency said there was a 50%-60% chance that El Niño would persist into the summer. Read More