El Niño could break record

The current El Niño weather pattern could become the strongest on record and one of the biggest weather events of recent decades, federal forecasters said Thursday.

This year’s El Niño, a warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator that affects weather around the world, is already the second strongest in federal records, with a 3.5-degree warming having already been measured, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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“We’re predicting that this El Niño could be among the strongest in the historical record dating back to 1950,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The forecast could be good news for California, which could receive an unusual amount of much-needed rain in the middle of a four-year-long drought.

But Halpert warned that increased rain is not guaranteed. Nonetheless, stronger El Niño signs usually cause more rain.

NOAA expects that this year’s pattern will exceed those recorded in 1997-1998, 1982-83 and 1972-73, based on the measurements taken so far.