California’s El Nio is the Strongest Ever

A rare third year of La Niña is on deck for California, forecasters say.

But the first two were so strong that there won’t be a third one, despite the El Niño phenomenon that’s been making headlines recently.

After a long, steady drier-than-average winter, the ocean is finally getting a major reprieve, as high pressure in the eastern Pacific builds toward the end of the summer.

“So when August comes, we’re going to see more heat in the Pacific,” said climatologist Patrick Michaels of Colorado State University, who specializes in El Niño events.

This will mean a second chance to see wetter weather across much of California for the first time since 1997, when there were also three years of El Niño by chance.

The dry years, when the state averaged only 20 percent of normal rainfall, typically come with a major drought.

This one, however, is due to an unusually strong El Niño of sorts that’s been going on for the past six years – the latest in a series of nine El Niño events that have started the same way.

This one is much like the first two and looks more like the more recent ones – a major wetter summer and an El Niño event.

For the third year in a row, California’s precipitation is projected to be well above average, with a whopping 20 percent above average, according to a forecast released Thursday by the National Weather Service.

This year’s El Niño is forecast to be the strongest ever according to the Global Climate Research Program, when it emerges in late September.

“It is what it is,” said Michael Palmer, a climatologist at NOAA’s Pacific Hurricane Center. “We don’t know yet how strong it will be.”

The El Niño is expected to last until about the middle of November,

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