A rare third year of La Niña is on deck for California, forecasters say.
California’s La Niña may return sooner than previously anticipated, says the state’s climate outlook, which is based on state data and is the same as the weather bureau’s.
The outlook, issued Friday by the state’s climate assessment of the year to come through to the end of the century, projects a normal El Niño event in California to be delayed by two to four months. The new outlook is the first from the state’s Climate Change and Agriculture Division since its creation in 2011, according to a news release.
The outlook, which uses computer models to project La Niña conditions, calls for a La Niña event to return in 2018-2019. But its forecast for 2020-21, the last full year of La Niña, calls for a delayed return of the state’s typical El Niño.
“We’ve known for some time that we were expecting a prolonged El Niño, but we wanted to be more specific and now there is some data – which we don’t have – to help us,” said state climate scientist Steve Marshall at Cal StateFullerton. “We can do a better job of predicting the state of California.”
The outlook for 2020-21 calls for an El Niño event to occur between Nov. 28 and Dec. 31.
El Niño is an ocean current that is typically characterized by warming ocean waters and rainfall.
In January, a La Niña, also known as a cool event, is typically used as an indicator of the future state of ocean and atmospheric conditions. However, Marshall said the state’s outlook does not include such information because the models used to predict El Niño and La Niña are not yet able to simulate ocean and atmospheric conditions fully.
“We have a model that looks over the ocean and is able to capture El Niño conditions, but it doesn’t capture La Niña conditions,” he said.
The outlook’s authors – Marshall and NOAA�