Jan 14, 2016

El Niño not fizzling: More storms barreling toward California

Spartan - Keys, San Jose, CA
USA
by
Paul Rogers
,
Capital Public Radio
Motorists crawl along Interstate 280 as flooding blocked three lanes in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Photo: Gary Reyes,  Bay Area News Group
Motorists crawl along Interstate 280 as flooding blocked three lanes in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Photo: Gary Reyes, Bay Area News Group

El Niño conditions may have peaked in the Pacific Ocean, federal scientists said Thursday, but powerful weather systems -- like a new series of storms on track to soak the greater Bay Area over the next five days -- have only just begun and will likely continue at least through May.

"This is the time of year when El Niño acts the most reliably," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the climate prediction center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in College Park, Maryland. "So we would certainly expect the impacts to continue well through the rest of the winter and into the early part of the spring."

Simply put, that means the likelihood of regular storms across California and heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada will continue to be greater this year than in regular years, offering hope that 2016 may finally be the year that the state's four-year drought -- now starting its fifth year -- is broken.

But, experts caution, a lot more rain and snow is needed.