NOAA scientists predict developing El Niño could be strongest ever


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The uncertainty of science: NOAA scientists yesterday predicted that the developing El Niño in the Pacific could be strongest ever recorded.

They appear to base this prediction on two factors:

It started unusually early — in March instead of June. This could be because warm waters left over from last year’s weak El Niño gave it a head start, says Anthony Barnston, chief forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University in Palisades, New York.

And this would be the second El Niño year in a row, following the weak El Niño that developed late last year, Barnston adds. A similar El Niño double-header happened between 1986 and 1988, but forecasters predict that the current El Niño will become stronger than either of those two events.

A strong El Niño would help end the drought in California. However, I wouldn’t bet the house on this prediction, considering how poorly last year’s prediction fared. Scientists really don’t yet understand all the factors behind this phenomenon, so their predictions are pretty much guesses at this point.

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