SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published an image comparing the Pacific Ocean’s sea surface temperatures from November 1997 and July 2015, offering a glimpse of a strong El Niño that may batter the entire west coast with heavy rain this winter.
The image, taken from the agency’s NOAA View Data Exploration Tool on their website, shows unusually warm ocean temperatures stretching from Alaska down to Peru. The large volume of warm ocean water along the Pacific coast appears to surpass the size and strength of 1997’s record-breaking system.
“The 1997-1998 El Niño was distinguished by record-breaking warm sea surface temperature anomalies in the equatorial east-central Pacific Ocean. So far in 2015, increasing equatorial warmth is developing alongside a positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation, characterized by persistently higher sea surface temperature anomalies of the northeastern Pacific,” the NOAA writes.
These new images add to mounting evidence suggesting that a powerful El Niño, which began forming last winter, may soon bring above-average rainfall for Southern California, much of which is in a drought.
“We’re predicting a strong El Niño,” said Maureen O’Leary, National Weather Service spokesperson.