The federal Climate Prediction Center recently asserted that El Nino, whose warm sea surface temperatures fuel southern storms, stands a 90 percent chance of continuing over the next few months and a more than 80 percent chance it will last through the end of the year.
While there's more confidence that El Nino will continue into the winter, it's too soon to know how strong it will be, said Michelle Mead, warning coordinator for the weather service in Sacramento.
"The strength is really what determines the potential to see above-average precipitation for California," Mead said.
Early predictions don't necessarily materialize, Mead cautioned. She pointed to last winter, which started strong amid predictions of a wet winter but fizzled after Christmas.
The CPC's assertion prompted breathless reports by some California media outlets, including this one from Channel 5 in San Francisco:
Climate experts say El Nino is growing stronger and could bring drought-busting wet weather to California this year. [...]For my complete story, check the upcoming issue of Capital Press.
On Thursday, scientists at the International ResearchInstitute for Climate and Society (IRI) said chances for El Nino this summer are close to 100 percent, with simulations suggesting by December, it could exceed the devastating 1997-1998 event that brought widespread flooding and hurricane-force winds to most of California.