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Warm ocean waters a possible sign for strong El Nino - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Warm ocean waters a possible sign for strong El Nino

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California is in the depths of a historic drought.  Reservoirs are running low on water and serious restrictions have been put into place. 

What the state desperately needs is rain,  and not just one or two storms but probably one or two seasons of rain.  There is some reason for optimism now due to El Nino.

What is clear is chances of a rainy season is stronger than in 1997 and 1982, two higher than average rain producing years locally. 

Rain at this point, seems impossible.

"I haven't seen it rain in such a long time," says 8 year old Mabel MacKirdy of San Luis Obispo while enjoying the day at Avila Beach with her mom and little brother.  

As a consistent beach-goer, spending her summer days in the ocean, this soon to be third grader is noticing something different.

"It was easier to get used to the water today than normal," says MacKirdy. 

While eyes are on the sky for some hope of rain, it is actually the water showing the positive signs. 

"I really like it because it's been super warm," says MacKirdy, who is right, the water is warming up.  

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the water off Avila Beach, is three degrees higher than average.  Monterey is 6 degrees warmer, and in San Francisco, beaches are seven degrees warmer hitting 65 degrees.

"In fact not only normal than average, warmer than any other historic El Niño," says KSBY Meteorologist Dave Hovde.  "So if you are looking back to ‘82 or ‘97, the water is even warmer than it was in those historic years."

National predictions are showing good signs so far of a strong El Nino.

"A strong El Nino has a high likelihood, a high connection with heavier than average rainfall and in a historic drought, it is exactly what we need," says Hovde. 

From a weather expert and a local beach bum, anything is possible.

"It hasn't rained a lot yet in the summer, but I think it is possible for it to rain," says MacKirdy. 

NOAA has already issued an El Nino advisory with the chances being better than 90% that it will last through winter, and current forecasts are a better then 80% chance it will last through spring.

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