Scientists say a ridge of atmospheric high pressure in the Pacific Ocean has produced a blob of warm ocean water. The combination is blocking storms in California.
A strong El Niño could wipe out both the ridge and the blob, and provide rain for the state. Stanford researcher Daniel Swain says the blob and El Niño could also work together.
“You have really warm water that leads to more evaporation of water into the atmosphere and potentially provides more water for storms that do occur," says Swain. "But of course the question really, since there will be plenty of moisture available, is whether we have storms that come along and act upon it.”
Swain adds that the blob and the ridge could also remain strong, potentially leaving the situation unchanged. Swain says El Niño usually brings warmer waters and the likelihood that precipitation won’t fall as snow.