Malibu Pier

Christian Rodriguez, 19, of Santa Barbara skimboards at the Malibu Pier with low clouds in the background on Thursday, June 11, 2015 in Malibu, California. Forecasters say chance for strong El Nino increased to more than 90%. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

By Veronica Rocha
July 11, 2015

Californians should brace themselves for one of the strongest El Niño events to hit the Pacific Ocean in years.

Unusually warmer temperatures of equatorial water in the Pacific and shifting winds continued through July, indicating that El Niño will be strong through the fall and into next spring, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

In fact, scientists say the likelihood that a significant El Niño will happen is more than 90%, and some models suggest there is a nearly 100% chance it will be strong this fall. Scientists previously said they expected a weak El Niño.

The weather phenomenon will probably contribute to an above-normal hurricane season in the central and eastern Pacific.

So what does this mean for Southern California?

Meteorologist Scott Sukup of the National Weather Service in Oxnard says the region could see above-normal rainfall with more strong storms like those of past El Niños.

He said it is too early to tell what the strong El Niño will actually bring, but the odds for a wet winter are looking good.

To read expanded story, click here.