El Nio still strong despite warmer temperatures

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 22:07:24-05

Despite a recent stretch of warm weather in San Diego, climate experts say there is still a good chance for more strong El Niño storms for the next 2-3 months.

Experts from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the Desert Research Institute and UC Santa Barbara delivered the "California Winter Status Update" on Tuesday. They said El Niño's warmer ocean temperatures will stick around until mid- to late spring.

RELATED: El Niño Watch

The forecast is challenging because experts only have three big El Niños to analyze -- this year's, the El Niño of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Experts have that small sample size to work from, plus all three were different in their own ways.

Experts have noticed a pattern from the last two strong El Niños on record -- the heaviest rains came during February and March. That means Sunset Cliffs could continue to face erosion, the Ocean Beach Pier will continue to be pounded by extra strong waves, San Diego streets will be flooded once again and the region's mountains could be in for more snow.

Climate experts found not every El Niño is followed by La Niña, but it's reasonably common. In fact, they say long-range computer models forecast we'll be in a La Niña pattern one year from now. That's when cooler ocean water returns closer to our coast and so do drier conditions return. They say the forecast will become more certain by summer.