El Niño May Soak Parched California This Winter

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2009 11:49 AM CDT
A chart of ocean temperatures during the last strong El Nino in 1997.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – El Niño is back. Meteorologists say water temperatures in the Pacific are rising to levels not seen since 2002 and could even hit 1997-98 levels. That year’s wet winter brought mud slides, blackouts, and floods to the Bay Area, as rainfall nearly doubled, the San Jose Mercury News reports. “We expect at least a moderate event this winter, possibly a strong event,” said one meteorologist.

But the news isn’t necessarily all bad. California’s now in its third year of drought, so a moderate El Niño effect could be just what the doctor ordered. East Coast dwellers, meanwhile, can expect fewer hurricanes this year thanks to the storm, notes the Palm Beach Post. The NOAA has lowered its forecast from nine to 14 named storms to between seven and 11.