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El Niño heavily influences U.S. winter outlook

Posted at 10:22 AM, Oct 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-17 10:23:49-04

It should come as no surprise the ever-strengthening El Niño is playing a big role in this year's winter forecast.

Meteorologists monitoring the current El Niño say this is likely to be in the top three strongest, among 1982-83 and 1997-98.

During those previous years, it was warmer and drier than usual in the northern half of the United States while it was cooler and wetter across the South.

This is good news for California, which is suffering one of its worst recorded droughts.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service believe the extra rainfall expected during the months of December, January, and February should ease drought conditions but will likely fall short of completely ending the drought and replenishing reservoirs and snow packs.

Meanwhile, drought conditions will likely stay the same or worsen in the Pacific Northwest where drier conditions are expected. Minor drought conditions could develop in parts of the Midwest, too.

El Niño is an upwelling of warmer ocean waters in the central and east central Equatorial Pacific Ocean changing weather patterns around the world.