NOAA predicts El Niño will continue through winter

Fresh off another punishing storm, Arizonans likely can expect to see a wet winter as El Niño conditions heat up the Pacific Ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday, Oct. 19, that El Niño conditions are present and there is a 95% chance they will continue through the winter. The weather patterns are on track to be the strongest since 1997, NOAA said in its winter forecast.

“At this point, we are fairly certain that El Niño will remain on the current trajectory, and we will see one of the top three strongest events on record since 1950,” Ben McMahan, research, outreach and assessment specialist for Climate Assessment for the Southwest, said in an e-mail following the forecast.

For Arizona, El Niño usually means a cooler, wetter winter. Rising ocean temperatures and the current weather patterns are closely tracking the fall of 1997.

Recent Arizona weather likely can be tied to El Niño, according to Mr. McMahan.

“The increased tropical storm activity in the eastern Pacific has pushed a number of storms into the Southwest, and we tend to see more tropical storm activity in the Southwest in El Niño years,” Mr. McMahan said. “The tropical storm season is waning, but we might see a few more systems push in this season.”