There have been a total of eight seasons beginning in years (1952, 1953, 1958, 1969, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2006, 2013) classified as “weak” El Niños, eight years (1951, 1963, 1968, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2002, 2009) as “moderate”, four years (1957, 1965, 1972, 1987) as “strong” and two years (1982, 1997) as “very strong” El Niños.
Of the 10 costliest flood years in California since 1950, only four happened during a season when there was an El Niño. Two others occurred during seasons with La Niña, and the final four were when the temperature of the tropical Pacific was near normal.
I have been collecting rain measurement in my backyard since the beginning of the 1997 El Niño year. That year the rain accumulation was 48.3 inches in my backyard. That was the highest annual total since I started collecting data. However the highest single 24 hour period was March 11, 2011. In that year rainfall amounted to 26.2 inches of rain. Heavy rain that previous December, 2010 totaled more than 9.6 inches and the news media called the heavy rain a “pineapple express.” That was not declared an El Niño year.
The annual rain fall in southern California is so erratic that averages are worthless. They predict nothing. The year following the 26.2 inches only 13.6 inches fell.
Let’s not hold our breath. We should plan for the worst. In other words plan for drought and hope for more rain.