So far, Southern California hasn't quite seen the torrential rains that authorities and city agencies and weather professionals have been warning are coming from the super-strong El Niño that's been brewing in the Pacific Ocean. Past El Niños were already dumping tons of precipitation on LA by mid-December. What gives? A new video out from the National Weather Service suggests that, in terms of rain, this El Niño winter is just running a little bit "behind schedule," but adds that scientists with the weather service still anticipate many more storms as the rainy season progresses, and for good reason.
A chart of the last six strong El Niños going back to 1950 shows a pattern: usually December is wet (experiencing above normal rainfall levels), January is drier with below normal rainfall, and then rainfall picks up in the months of February through May, with totals "ranging from 120 to 200 percent above normal." Since we're just about one month into the period when the El Niño usually picks up steam, there's still "very good potential" that SoCal will still get some big storms and soggy weather from late winter into the spring. Just because this El Niño is tardy to the party, doesn't mean it won't show up at all.
The video also reminds us that the sea surface temperatures for this year's El Niño are tied with those of the very strong 1997-1998 El Niño; since sea surface temperatures are an indicator of when the phenomenon is forming and how intense it might be, the fact that the current El Niño is so similar to one of the strongest El Niños on record is why LA is prepping so hard for a slew of massive storms.
· El Nino Status and When Will It Rain in Southwest California - Dec. 10, 2015 [YouTube]
· How LA is Prepping to Take This Winter's Monster El Niño [Curbed LA]
· There's a 95 Percent Chance SoCal is Getting Hit With a Huge El Niño This Winter [Curbed LA]
· Watch the Enormous El Niño Growing in the Pacific Right Now [Curbed LA]