SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Forecasters once called it the Godzilla El Nino, but it seems to be fizzling and leaving forecasters saying it’s not the monster they thought it might be.
The National Weather Service says the extreme tropical temperatures that broke records early this year have tapered off. They say it’s showing signs of a shifting to the Pacific’s other phase, La Nina.
Tom Dang with the National Weather Service says part of the reason El Nino didn’t live up to the hype was history.
“Certainly, the strongest El Nino’s have brought heavier than normal precipitation. But when you look at all six, only four of the six actually brought above average precipitation to Northern California,” he said.
Predictions don’t mean guarantees. That’s the message from officials from the NWS who admit this year’s El Nino didn’t play out the way they thought it would.
“El Nino has actually been weakening over the last several months. It peaked way back in November and December. We’re in a weak El Nino phase right now. It’ll probably be neutral conditions by May or so,” he said.
Instead of torrential rain in Southern California, the region ended winter well below average precipitation, and statewide snowpack was just 87 percent of average at its peak.
But now La Nina could be looming.
“It’s difficult to say at this point how strong that La Nina might be. There’s a 50-50 chance of it right now,” Dang said.
The phenomenon comes when temperatures cool too much after an El Nino and divert the jet stream north, meaning possible drier than normal conditions for California.
But even with the new prediction, Dang says the honest answer is it’s still too early to know for sure.
“Next winter is still a long, long time away. So, outlooks this far out are historically very, very poor. I wouldn’t count too much on anything right now,” he said.