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Federal Forecasters Raise El Niño Probablity To 65 Percent

Above: Sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (above). El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. Anomalies represent deviations from normal temperature values, with unusually warm temperatures shown in red and unusually cold anomalies shown in blue.

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Aired 5/9/14

There’s an increasing likelihood an El Niño condition will develop this fall, raising hope for a parched California.

There’s an increasing likelihood an El Niño condition will develop this fall, raising hope for a parched California.

In a report released Thursday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced the probability for the weather phenomenon has increased to 65 percent.

El Niño is a warming of ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific that occurs about every four to 12 years. It can cause above-average rainfall in San Diego as well as potentially damaging waves along the coast. The event can last from 9 months to two years.

“There remains uncertainty as to exactly when El Niño will develop and an even greater uncertainty as to how strong it may become,” the NOAA bulletin stated.

Forecasters emphasized the condition doesn't always guarantee a wet year for Southern California. During the last El Niño in 2010, San Diego received 10 inches of rain, which is average, but it produced a significantly stronger than usual wave energy, causing 36 percent more erosion along California's shorelines than an average winter.

Major El Niños can bring significant rainfall to the region, such as in 1997-1998 when the San Diego received 17 inches of rain. In 1993, El Niño was credited with dumping 18 inches at Lindbergh Field.

Meanwhile, dry conditions are continuing in Southern California with temperatures expected to soar 20 to 30 degrees above average starting Monday, as a strong ridge of high pressure sets in once again. Santa Ana winds, low humidity and temperatures in the 90s are expected across the county through the week.

“This will bring a period of critical fire weather conditions for Monday through Thursday,” San Diego National Weather Service forecasters warned.

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