The most recent El Niño that brought drought-hit California one of its wettest winters in as many as five years is weakening, but the ominous sign is that it is apparently giving way to its atmospheric sibling called La Niña.
La Niña is expected to helpful to Californians, particularly in the parched southern part of the state, which has been bearing most of the brunt of the state’s years-old drought. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), La Niña has historically had the most impact on Southern California.
On Thursday, the NOAA issued a La Niña watch. It was the first time when the federal agency issued a La Niña watch since May 2012. The agency said there is a 71 per cent odds of La Niña conditions being present in the Pacific Ocean by the month of November, up from 57 per cent in March.
Mike Halpert, the deputy director of College Park, Maryland-based NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, “At this point, odds favor the development of La Niña by the fall. And should we see La Niña develop, below-normal precipitation would be favored next winter across Central and Southern California.”
However, the agency cautioned that a clearer picture, indicating the strength of the potential La Niña, will not be known until late summer. Meanwhile, state water regulators are working on a plan for how much to ease the mandatory water conservation targets that were imposed on the state’s urban areas in June last year.
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