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January 12, 2010 / Dave Gorham

El Niño On the Loose

Thanks to El Niño, the mid-range forecast suggests a big soak should be expected over the US West Coast over the next couple of weeks. Early indications suggest this pattern will break "sooner rather than later," but exactly when remains unknown.

The typical El Niño allows sea surface temperatures to rise over the eastern Pacific, which results in lower air pressure and more upward vertical motion in the atmosphere. This in turn allows for more thunderstorm activity over the same region (as well as many, many other effects). The clouds and rains then travel eastward with the jet stream allowing forecasters to predict higher than normal rainfall and lower than normal temperatures.

The classic El Niño pattern is for a wetter- and colder-than-normal South and that’s what these images from NOAA confirm.

Above average precipitation expected from southern California to southern Texas to southern Florida.

Below average temperatures are expected from the Gulf Coast of Texas through the Mid-Atlantic States.

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