NOAA predicts a warm, wet El Nino-fueled winter

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    Photo: Madison Rhodes

    If you’re thinking of some winter camping it’s almost time to dig out your foul weather gear and Wellingtons (but you can leave your snow parka in storage), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    With most of the United States expected to experience above-average temperatures this winter, California will stay on the extreme track with El Nino predicted to move us from drought conditions in the fall to more atmospheric rivers from December into February 2019, reports patch.com.

    NOAA released its winter outlook, placing California’s midsection as having an equal chance of more precipitation than other years and warmer than usual. This means less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range – and for what comes down, it may be hard to manage. Sometimes too much, too fast is detrimental to our water supply that consumers and farmers rely on.

    “The bulk of the rainfall could be in atmospheric rivers. Expect to see some number of those with the warming of the ocean,” NOAA Climate Prediction Center Deputy Director Mark Halpert said.


    “California’s tricky,” Halpert told Patch.com on a media conference call. He further dictated a concern that “snow levels typically rise” – especially when atmospheric rivers pound the snowpack and carry it away when the rainfall comes all at once. “What makes and breaks them is the number of them,” he added.

    With more expected to hit this winter, California experiences between six and eight of these prolonged poundings labeled Pineapple Express storms because they’re tropical in nature and release their torrent fast and furious.

    “As we head into winter, drought conditions are a concern for large parts of the West,” Halpert said. When the rain does pour, it flows every which way over a solid ground.

    There is a connection between the warmth and El Nino. On average, the stronger the El Nino episode, the warmer and wetter the winters have been. The winter of 2015-16 brought one of the strongest El Ninos in the past 60 years.

    “It was also the warmest winter on record for the continental United States,” Halpert said. The other two “very strong years” were 1982-83 and 1997-98.

    Meanwhile, the warmth this winter is expected to span throughout the nation. “No part of the United States is favored to have below average temperatures,” Halpert said.

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    Tommy Molnar
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    Tommy Molnar

    Ah yes, “atmospheric rivers”. The current catchword.

    Frankly, I think weather forecasting is overrated. They try to tell us what the weather will be like for the winter but can’t, with any accuracy, tell me what the next three days will be like. Bring on the Farmer’s Almanac.