This winter's El Niño was, indeed, historically strong, as it was predicted to be back in December. But it is now on the wane, and not all big weather events — like last weekend's atmospheric river storm — can be directly attributed to it, experts say.

"We’re slightly past peak at this point," says Michelle L’Heureux, a climate scientist with the Climate Prediction Center, speaking to CNN about this "super El Niño" we've been seeing in the Pacific.

Measurements have found ocean surface temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius above average the past couple months, which is a threshold that reportedly has only been breached six times since these temps have been recorded.

Forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center announced Thursday that a flip to a La Niña pattern is now very likely by fall — something that has happened about 60% of the time after a strong El Niño pattern has occurred. We saw three back-to-back La Niña years, ending with last winter's record-breaking rain totals — which goes to show that one or the other does not guarantee the Bay Area a wetter or drier than average year.

The last super-strong El Niño was the winter of '97/'98, and while winter isn't through with us yet, people who lived in California at that time will tell you that this winter has been a cakewalk by comparison — and the rain never seemed to stop that season.

This El Niño did fulfill predictions for Southern California and the Southwest, which have seen their droughts all but wiped away after recent rains.

As L’Heureux tells CNN, there are lots of factors at play with climate change that make broad predictions about El Niño and La Niña harder.

But, a La Niña season tends to create a more active hurricane season in the Atlantic, and a drier-than-usual winter for Southern California.

And you can only blame El Niño in part for what we just saw in California, and for the drought-fueled wildfires that recently hit Chile.

"It’s difficult to attribute any single weather system or series of them to El Niño. With that said, it seems probable that there were some links to El Niño [with last weekend's California storms]," L’Heureux says.

Previously: Uh Oh: Forecasters Now Say This Winter's El Niño Could Be 'Historically Strong'

Photo: Matt Bennett