The seasonal drenching shows a big geographical consistency … until it doesn’t.

This winter’s El Niño has delivered monumental precipitation to the West … up until now. Dry, unseasonably warm weather is blanketing California—Oakland hit a record high of 81 degrees Monday—raising fears the infernal drought might escape with hardly a dent in its hide.

Whether that happens is anybody’s guess. The Climate Prediction Center sees below-average chances of Western rains in the next couple weeks, but there’s always the possibility late-season storms could deliver a soaking. Gamblers wanting to bet on the coming weather might find this NOAA graphic handy, as it illustrates the winter rainfalls that've occurred during El Niños back to 1950.

El Niños are ordered from strong at top to weak at bottom, though commonalities are evident throughout most despite intensity. Namely, it often gets wetter in the South and West, excluding weird winters like 1976-77 and 1963-64, when many unexpected regions were drier. “This variability from one El Niño to the next is one reason why [Climate Prediction Center] scientists always talk about seasonal climate outlooks in terms of ‘odds,’ ‘chances,’ or ‘probabilities’—not guarantees,” writes NOAA’s Rebecca Lindsey.

Here’s a larger version if you really want to get in there and scrutinize:

NOAA

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    To Defund the Police, Activists Rewrote City Budgets

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

  4. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  5. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

×