Here we go again: Meterologists are predicting a "weak" El Niño this winter, for whatever that's worth. The National Weather Service is saying the area of the Pacific closest to the equator rose in temperature a "weak" amount of seven tenths of a percent for three straight months, indicating an El Niño pattern for winter weather on the West Coast, but this may lead to a dry winter, or a wet winter. Experts aren't sure.

This takes us back to the winter of 2010/11 which was declared an La Niña year, with some saying that the La Niña pattern lasted until early this year. That has meant somewhat dryer winters the past two years, with virtually no snow falling in the Sierras this year until late in the season.

This winter could be wetter, then, however one lead forecaster at the NWS says it's a "roll of the dice" really, and as we've learned over the years, it all depends on what region you live in. More rain would be good news for grape-growers, who have seen lighter rainfall for two previous years, causing wine harvest season to be later and later each year.

It's hard to predict, but on average, a weak El Niño means dry, not wet, at least for us, looking back over 50 years. And it likely won't be the deluge of rain we saw in '97/'98, for those who remember.

It's interesting to note that the El Niño pattern which went on from 1789-93 and caused poor crop yields in Europe has been blamed for touching off the French Revolution.