El Nino forming in the Pacific Ocean

Wetter winter weather possible in San Diego area

SAN DIEGO - The weather phenomenon known as El Nino was predicted to form last December, but now researchers believe the event could be as strong as the one in 1998.

"We won't really know the size or duration until it gets here, but if it hovers off the coast, we could be in for some wet weather this winter," said Pat Abbott, Ph.D., and professor emeritus at San Diego State University.

There are signs the warm water phenomenon is already in San Diego.

"We are catching fish closer to San Diego that we normally don't get this close, like blue fin tuna," said Armando Marquez, the captain of the sports fishing boat Producer out of H&M Landing in Point Loma.

"These aren't small either," Marquez added. "They're in the 80- to 90-pound range. We're also finding yellow fin tuna out there."

While good for fishing and bigger waves for surfers, the questions remain just how big this event will be and how long will it stay.

"If the El Nino stays through our winter months, then it could produce rain, which would offset the drought we're in," Abbott said.

The weather phenomenon occurs when the trade winds relax and push the warm water back toward North and South America.

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