NASA expert: El Niño is “too big to fail”
LOS ANGELES – Climatologists are predicting that this winter will be unusual across the country because of El Niño that is brewing in the Pacific Ocean.
“There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” Bill Patzert, a climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the LA Times. “And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal.”
Scientists say El Niño is getting stronger because of rising sea-level ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and a change of directions of the wind along the equator.
According to LA Times, that means that winter storms that normally drop rain in central America could shift north and move them over California and the southern United States.
Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, said this El Niño is the second strongest he’s seen at this time of the year.
“This could be one of the types of winters like in 1997-98,” Halpert said.
According to NOAA, the winter of 1997 was the second warmest and seventh wettest on record. Severe weather included flooding in the southeast and California, an ice storm in the northeast and tornadoes in Florida.
During that winter, Oklahoma had some of its warmest temperatures and wettest weather.
Patzert told the LA Times that while nothing is ever guaranteed, he is almost certain this El Niño will have an impact. In fact, he says even if temperatures were to start dropping now in the ocean, it would still impact precipitation this winter.