This year’s El Niño season is looking stronger and longer in the latest outlook released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The odds of a historically strong El Niño grew to 71% in this month’s update.
Even more certain is the climate pattern seems determined to stick around. NOAA forecasters said there’s a larger than 95% chance it last until the start of spring and a 60% chance it keeps going all the way until summer.
During an El Niño winter, the southern third to half of the United States, including California, tends to get more precipitation. (Exactly where that dividing line falls varies from year to year.) Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Ohio Valley tend to be dry and warm.
Hawaii also often sees below-average rain during an El Niño fall, winter, and spring season.
The effects of El Niño are usually the strongest during winter.
Even if this year’s El Niño forces are looking powerful, its effects are never guaranteed.
“A strong El Niño does not necessarily equate to strong impacts locally,” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center wrote.
Whether we’re in an El Niño or La Niña year isn’t the only thing that affects our weather. Other climate forces, like increasing global temperatures and environmental anomalies, also play a role.