El Nino Watch Issued; Could Portend Rain for Dry California

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The odds are increasing that El Niño, the powerful climate phenomenon that alters precipitation patterns across the globe, will develop in the Pacific Ocean this year, U.S. government forecasters say.


Umbrella-toting pedestrians stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. (Nick Ut / Associated Press / December 19, 2013)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center activated its alert system on Thursday to issue an El Niño watch.

The alert means that conditions in the eastern tropical Pacific are favorable enough that El Niño has a more than a 50% chance of forming by the summer or fall.

Though it’s too early to predict with much confidence, if El Niño re-emerges it could produce wetter weather in the southern United States next winter, bring more rain to California, temper the Atlantic hurricane season and push up global temperatures in 2015, experts say.

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