El Nino may be weakening


El Nino might be California’s only hope for a drought-busting winter. But that superhero weather system might not arrive in time to save winter.

Earlier hopes that the drought would break soon have been tempered. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center downplayed the help that El Nino may bring to the drought-plagued West in its monthly report of Pacific Ocean weather patterns. 

While the Center is still projecting that sea surface temperatures will be warmer than usual — a phenomenon known as El Nino — it is now saying that the effect will be only “weak to moderate.”

The forecast strength of the El Nino was downgraded because Pacific Ocean temperatures near the International Date Line have not continued to rise since earlier this year when they were well above average. While strong El Nino weat​h​er patterns usually create more rain in the U.S. West, weaker El Ninos typically don’t bring more rains to the region.

The Center said that there is a 70 percent chance El Niño will develop by the end of the summer, and an 80 percent chance that one will develop by the early winter.

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