Due to the cooler temperatures in May, along with some precipitation, and the abundance of rainfall in the central, southern part of the country, some scientists are already predicting a wetter winter than normal for California. But it is just too early to tell, said Jim Dudley, U.S. Weather Service forecaster in Hanford.
There are signs of an El Nino, but just how strong it will be is yet to be seen, he said.
There is some correlation between recent weather trends in the U.S. and the warm “blob,” an area of water in the Pacific two to seven degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding water. The “blob” was named by Nick Bond, a climate scientist at the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.
This warm “blob,” first spotted in late 2013, measures approximately 1,000 miles along the coast from Alaska to Mexico, and sits about 300 feet deep. It is attributed by many sources for some of the strange weather in the U.S. so far this year, including the heavy storms in Texas and Oklahoma. It was also cited as a source for Washington’s milder than usual 2014 winter, according to the University of Washington’s Today.
The “blob” is also being blamed for the loss of food supply chain for which emaciated sea lions have shown up on California shores.
Bond sees the “blob” remaining until at least the end of this year, according to Today.
But whether it offers any correlation to California’s next winter weather is not really known, Dudley said.
“They’re related,” Dudley said of the various U.S. weather patterns, “but just how they are all related is really difficult to correlate.”
Many forecasters are predicting an El Nino.
“An El Nino does tend to make the southern U.S. wetter,” he said. “But it has to be an extreme El Nino to cause a wet winter here.”
The last strong El Nino hit California in 1997-98.
But a strong El Nino could affect only one part of the country and not others, he said.
It will not be until September, October or even November until a winter forecast can be made with any possibility of certainty.
If the surface sea temperature at that time is five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual, we are looking at a strong El Nino with a wet winter for California, Dudley said.
If it is two or three degrees higher, then it is hard to say.
As for this summer, the South Valley is looking at pretty much normal summer weather, he said.
“The Pacific should shut off completely,” Dudley said. “We were lucky to have a few storms in May that brought some showers (to areas of the Valley).”
We will slowly warm up after this week’s cool down. Long-range predictions at this point are trending a bit higher than normal for the 30- and 60-day-outlook, he said.
It will be typically dry this summer.