A cooling of ocean temperatures that often comes in the aftermath of an El Niño season, known as La Niña, may not be taking shape as forecasters were predicting in recent months. A report released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts we'll see more record warm temperatures this year through at least October, and that the certainty and potential strength of a La Niña occurring is totally up in the air chances are down that it will even happen, and if it does it will be a weak one. This could be possibly good news for California's drought, because a winter of just average rain would help the state following this past winter's disappointing El Niño, which was less of a "Godzilla" than predicted, and La Niña tends to spell a drier than average winter for California.
Forecasters now put the probability a La Niña forming at 55 to 60 percent, down from 75 percent in May. And if one does occur, it will be weak to moderate, most likely.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Michael Dettinger, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Southern California says, "It seems like the tropical ocean is getting ready for some sort of La Niña cool water is building up under the ocean surface in the eastern tropical Pacific but the trade winds haven’t engaged in ways that encourage that, and so the models are responding by suggesting a possible fizzle."
Nonetheless, El Niño has left us with hotter than usual temperatures everywhere, with Alaska and the Arctic reaching new heat records and more and more sea ice melting.
And even if this is a La Niña year, that doesn't necessarily mean anything for the Bay Area, as we've discussed before just like with El Niño, the pattern tends to be more certain for Southern California and the Pacific Northwest more than here, which means it can swing either way for us, rain or no rain. And patterns, shmatterns they said SoCal was going to get dumped on this past winter, and that totally didn't happen.
For a better explainer from the experts, view the video below, and keep conserving water where you can.