Where’s El Nino?

Daffodils Oak Glen

Daffodils Oak Glen

By Julie Pendray

Idyllwild, Calif. — What happened to Southern California’s expected rain? It’s a question asked by many of us since January’s mountain snow and February’s warm dry days. Spring seems to have sprung. Trees are blossoming, squirrels are building nests, birds are chasing each other around the trees and bulbs are coming up.

Snowcapped Idyllwild Xmas 2014

File photo of Lily Rock, Idyllwild, taken from Humber Park. Photo: Julie Pendray.

But don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched, National Weather Service is saying. March and April could bring heavy precipitation.

Those are generally the wettest months, according to Alex Tardy, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS office in San Diego, which covers the Southern California region, including Idyllwild.

“March is typically the wettest month on record for strong El Ninos,” he stated in a slide show presentation of weather models and historical data he published on You Tube today. “Even in a non-El Nino period, we could expect 4 to 7 inches of rain in the Southern California mountains.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.34.01 PM

Slide from National Weather Service presentation provided by Alex Tardy.

He said models and historical data indicate “above normal probabilities of precipitation” for March. “This is not an indication of flooding, per se.”

What happened in February?

Last month was one of the hottest and driest Februarys on record for Southern California, Tardy said.

“The storm track basically buckled in February and went up and over most of California, not just Southern California,”he said.

Most of our region is now below where it should be for precipitation at this time of year, the meteorologist said. “Most of southwestern California is doing very poor, at about 50 percent of normal.”

Compared to the two strong El Ninos in 1983 and 1998, the precipitation this winter through February has been 30 to 50 percent of those periods in some areas, he said.

The ocean temperatures in the El Nino zone are still as warm as they’ve been all winter and they’re just as significant as they were in 1997/98, he added.

The storm track is what’s different.

“The storm source regions have been there but the storms are not making it this far east,” Tardy said. “In the past month, the storm regions have been going way too far to the north.”

The bottom line?

Enjoy the early daffodils but don’t put your rain and snow gear away yet.

To view the You Tube slide presentation by Tardy, click here.

Copyright Julie Pendray and SpecialsNotOnTheMenu.com




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