El Nino
The image shows Kelvin waves of high sea level (red/yellow) crossing the Pacific Ocean at the equator. The waves can be related to El Niño events. Green indicates normal sea level, and blue/purple areas are lower than normal. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Don’t expect El Niño to be a drought-buster this year, a climatologist said Monday.

Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said the latest El Niño started out “like gang-busters,” then faded, and — though there has been a resurgence — “it’s pretty weak.”

El Niño describes a weather pattern involving a warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a condition that is associated with increased rainfall on the west coast of North America.

Patzert said the public associates El Niño with 1997 and 1998 weather events which “doubled rainfall up and down” California.

“Those very strong El Niños happen every 30 or 40 years. Most are more modest and are not good forecasters of heavy rainfall,” he said.

“People are looking for drought relief here — the great wet hope,” but California is in the midst of a “deep, deep drought which has taken us many years to reach and there is no quick fix,” he said.

Patzert said that if the ’97 event was a Godzilla El Niño, the weather pattern shaping up now in the eastern Pacific is more like “El Gecko.”

“It is not going to be a drought-buster,” he said.

— City News Service