Snowpack

Frank Gehrke of the California Department of Water Resources surveys the snowpack at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Jason Song
April 15, 2016

The National Weather Service has confirmed what many Southern Californians suspected during a scorching February: El Niño, and its badly needed rainstorms, are pretty much kaput.

“It’s looking pretty grim,” said Anthony Barnston, the chief climate forecaster for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society in New York. “This winter was really disappointing.”

This week, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center published an El Niño advisory that not only forecast the end of the Pacific Ocean-warming phenomenon, but also warned that El Niño’s drier flip side, La Niña, would replace it by the end of the year.

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Based on falling water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, meteorologists are predicting that El Niño will end this spring or early summer.

Last fall, many scientists predicted that El Niño would give Southern California the best chance for above-average rains, while Northern California was predicted to get much less precipitation. In reality, the exact opposite has happened.

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