Thanks to El Niño, this winter in the United States is expected to be warmer and wetter than most, the National Weather Service said Thursday.
This brings good news for drought-ridden regions like California and the Southwest. There is a 70 percent chance for more much-needed rain in the South. Experts note, however, that one season won’t immediately solve all their water problems.
More rain could also lead to safety hazards for residents of California, such as flooding and mudslides, warns private weather forecaster AccuWeather. “California will be much more active weather-wise this winter than last winter," meteorologist Ben Noll said.
Those in Boston and New York still scarred from last year's excessive snowfall will be pleased to hear that there is a 60 percent chance for warmer weather across the northern US, while Northern Alaska and Hawaii will face drier conditions, according to Live Science.
America’s central states are usually less affected, and this year there is an equal chance of their temperature and rainfall going in either direction, the NWS said.
While forecasters can’t be certain where this year’s El Niño will rank in terms of strength, it is already predicted to be among the top three on record since 1950, an official told The Washington Post.
“The driver of this winter's outlook is El Nino,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of National Ocean Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.
Winter is still coming, however. “El Niño is not the only player,” Mr. Halpert cautioned. “Cold-air outbreaks and snow storms will likely occur at times this winter.”
El Niño, which comes every two to five years, is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean around the equator. While its effects are often profound in the US, its events also change weather patterns across the globe.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.