Raises the prospect that its heavy rains could end California’s historic drought.
“There is a greater than 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue through the winter of 2015-16, and around an 80 percent chance it will last into early spring 2016,” said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a statement earlier this week.
During previous strong El Niño events, California has seen a 150 percent to 200 percent increase in rainfall, said Mike Halpert of NOAA.
The record-breaking El Niño of1997-1998 is estimated to have caused losses in the billions in the U.S. alone.
During just one week in January, 1998, the eastern U.S. and eastern Canada saw flooding rains from the lower Mississippi valley through the southeast and into the northeast, accompanied by several tornadoes, and a severe ice storm in parts of the northeast/New England and into Canada, says NOAA.
“The severe ice storm mainly affected upstate New York, northern New Hampshire and Vermont, much of Maine, and southeast Canada. Some locations received over 3 inches of rain (in the form
of freezing rain).”
Three million Canadian utility customers lost power as a result of the storm, while more than 500,000 customers in the northeast U.S. lost power. In Maine, four out of five residents lost electrical service, and nearly 3 million feet of power lines were destroyed. Overall damages were well over $2 billion for Canada and over $300 million for the U.S.
All this from just one of the many storms triggered by the El Niño of 1997-1998.