It's Last Call for El Niño
Temperatures in some parts of the Southland reached higher than 80 degrees this week, and spring is officially here Sunday.
Federal forecasters have nary a drop of rain in their seven-day forecast for Los Angeles, and the two-week outlook by the federal Climate Prediction Center pegs Southern California for a 60 percent chance of above-normal temperatures through the end of the month and a 50 percent probability of lower-than-normal rainfall during that time.
That could put us in April without more precipitation. This after February gave us the hottest month for high temperatures ever recorded.
El Niño, one of the strongest such weather phenomenons ever documented, just hasn't delivered for SoCal.
Some of those who predicted a historically wet winter for L.A. are sticking to their guns and doubling down on the prospect of a late-winter, early-spring miracle.
But time is running out.
"Usually April is not a big storm month," says Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
This season, since Oct. 1, we've seen 6.57 inches of rain, with nearly another 6 inches needed to make it to normal, according to NWS figures.
Last year the Climate Prediction Center said there would be a 60 percent chance of above-average rainfall in Southern California. At this rate we won't even make normal.
"The fronts will start getting weaker as we get into April," Seto of the NWS said.
What happened? The jet stream, manipulated by El Niño's warm waters along the equatorial Pacific, is a fickle thing.
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We suggested in our early November piece, "Hey L.A., El Niño Rain Is Far From a Sure Thing," that predicting where the stream, which brings us storms, will land is a fool's errand:
"There's no guarantee a jet stream will strike Southern California, for example," we wrote. "It could strike just to the north. It could strike just to the south. Even with a strong El Niño."
The jet stream headed north, often blocked by a ridge of high pressure (such as we've seen this week) that produced that warm February.
The Sierra snowpack is healthy, and San Franciso is just a hair below normal (30.40 inches) with 29.31 inches of rain so far this season, according to the NWS.
The Bay Area stole our El Niño.
For L.A., there's a very small chance of showers overnight Sunday, Seto said, with daytime temps cooling off to the mid-70s (which is still above normal) until early next week.
Despite a low front dipping down Tuesday, it looks as if things will warm up again by Thursday.
"At this point for us, I can tell you that it doesn't look like much rain," Seto said. "Northern California has been the real beneficiary this year of the El Niño weather pattern."
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