Mild El Nino could result in drier winter for Nevada
RENO, Nev. (AP) – People who hope that a mild El Nino might signal an end to five years of drought may be in for a disappointment.
Weather experts say this year’s phenomenon is not only mild, but is located 1,500 miles farther west than would be needed for the wettest weather conditions in the Western United States.
“El Nino isn’t always the white knight riding in on a horse,” Kelly Redmond of the Western Regional Climate Center told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “This year’s El Nino may have a little bit different effects than what we normally see.”
Several computer models are producing forecasts that are “a bit bleak” in terms of expected precipitation this winter, agreed Dan Cayan, a climate expert with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.
Despite a promising series of storms last month, long-range forecasts by the federal Climate Prediction Center predict warm and dry conditions for the region through the winter, with the possibility of a wet spring.
Although Cayan said he is not ready to write off this year’s El Nino as a precipitation producer, he isn’t overly optimistic, either.
“I don’t think we can be really as confident as we would if this was a classic El Nino event and a large magnitude one,” Cayan said.
El Nino means “the child” in Spanish because it tends to appear around Christmas time. Not all El Nino years are wet, but some, like the last big one during the winter of 1997-98, can bring flooding rains and heavy mountain snow to Nevada and California.
Five years of drought conditions have Nevada farmers facing a state of emergency. For the first time in a decade, the primary water supplier for Reno-Sparks was forced to dip into backup drought supplies to meet demand until last month’s storms hit.
To restore Lake Tahoe’s levels and otherwise emerge from a major water deficit, precipitation of about 200 percent of normal will be necessary, according to the federal water masters office.
“There’s so much at stake this year. That’s one thing that’s clear to everybody,” Redmond said.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal