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If El Nino Ever Arrives, It Likely Wont Bring Much Rain

El Nino heats up parts of the ocean, and begins a pattern that can bring rain to North America.

The Climate Prediction Center is out with an update on El Nino.  The weather pattern is often associated with heavy rains, so watching for its arrival has become something of an obsession in drought-stricken parts of the country like Texas.

In October, the center was giving odds that the pattern would form before the end of the year.  That hasn’t happened yet. The reason is that warmer than average temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean have not heated up atmospheric temperatures as they’re expected to do.

On Thursday, the weather service said El Nino was still likely to appear, but might come later than previously thought. Researchers now givea 65 percent chance of El Nino forming some time this winter, but not necessarily by the end of the year.

Forecasters are also predicting that the El Nino will not have a particularly strong impact on the weather.

“It looks like it will only be a weak El Nino," says Victor Murphy, the Service Program Manager for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. "So, unfortunately I would not look for any significant or widespread drought improvement."

Those words are bound to disappoint many Texans hoping for rains to replenish depleted reservoirs before the scorching summer months.

But if a weak El Nino does arrive this winter, "at least getting the needle up pointed in the right direction will be a start," Murphy offered.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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