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The buzz in the weather world this year is turning from drought to El Nino. The drought will be a major issue for the spring and summer months, but El Nino could turn that around in a hurry.

The latest image from NASAshows an El Nino developing near the equator and compares it to the last big El Nino season 1997 and into 1998. NASA is using satellites to measure the highest point of the water, which is pretty incredible. Through thermal expansion, warmer water expands, and the warmer the water, the higher the numbers.

The equator was much warmer than average and we saw the classic El Nino pattern develop with major rain for Southern California and the southeast and drought in Australia.

Something interesting about a classic El Nino pattern is that there is not a strong correlation with more rain in Northern California for a weak to moderate El Nino, but for a major El Nino, there has been copious rain in the past. The biggest monthly rain total for Sacramento was February 1998 with almost 13 inches of rain.

There can be benefits with rain, and more water storage as a result of increased rain in the winter, but a strong El Nino can also create flooding and damage. A recapof damage lists vegetable crop losses, flood damage, and crop loss in Asia as some negative impacts of a strong El Nino. Fewer Atlantic hurricanes is another as a result.

While it is still early to declare El Nino is here, all the signs point to it becoming the major influence on our weather later this summer and into next year.

Rob Carlmark, News10 meteorologist

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