El Nino Could Bring Drought Relief To The Southwest
Climatologists said Wednesday that conditions are right for an El Nino weather pattern to develop that could bring wetter-than-normal conditions this winter in drought-stricken areas of the southwestern U.S.
"I would say, flip a coin."
Parts of the Southwest, particularly the Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
There is a 70-75 percent chance for development this winter of El Nino, the natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that influences weather worldwide, said Gerry Bell, research meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
El Nino-produced rainfall could relieve parched conditions in many parts of the drought-stricken Southwest but how much relief the region experiences depends upon the strength of the tropical ocean phenomenon, he said.
"El Nino is not a guarantee," he said.
Simeral said the Four Corners region is in the midst of the driest September-October period on record.
The region has experienced the warmest 12-month period on record in 123 years of record-keeping.
Snowpacks in parts of Arizona and Colorado that could provide much-needed moisture during warm, dry periods are unusually low.
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