NWS officials: El Niño likely to last through spring

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Meteorologists with the National Weather Service now say El Nio has a 90% chance of lasting through this winter, and an 85% chance of lasting through early next spring.

Action News Chief Meteorologist Kevin Musso explains what El Nio is.

"A rising of the sea surface temperatures at the equator that tends to take the jet stream that steers storms around the globe and skews it to places causing rain in drought stricken areas and area that typically get rain, have drought," Musso said.

This year, a strong El Nio, combined with warming of waters in the northern Pacific Ocean, could mean above average precipitation, like what happened in the winter of 1997/1998.

But California also suffered severe mudslides and flooding, while other parts of the country experienced some of the warmest and wettest weather on record.

"Bring it on," said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. "We're in such a deficit right now that we are at a case where we can take a lot of precipitation because our reservoirs are at lows, we have a lot of places to put that water right now."

Jacobsen hopes the heavy rain will hold off until at least mid-October. He says crops like grapes and almonds depend on dry and hot weather. But Jacobsen says after four years of drought, Central Valley farmers have to expect the worst-another dry winter.

El Nio doesn't guarantee anything.

"When you look at the Kings River watershed for example, there's been 17 documented events of El Nio-nine of them have been wetter than average, eight of them have been dryer than average," Jacobsen said. "And so you're almost shooting fifty-fifty when it comes to whether or not El Nio is going to be wet or not."

Many wonder whether El Nio will end California's drought.

"Well if we were looking for a short cut, El Nio is certainly a good one but it won't solve four years of drought," Musso said. "It will help us get back to where we need to be."

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.