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El Niño likely to bring drought relief

Posted: August 13, 2009 9:54 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Erratic temperatures this summer are preceding an El Niño weather pattern that's likely to bring heavy rainfall during the winter, weather experts said Thursday.

An El Niño condition could signal the end to California's three-year-long drought, which has forced water rationing in parts of the state and left some Central Valley farmers' fields fallow.

"El Niño is likely to have its greatest effects during the winter season, when the low-pressure systems dip further south and carry more precipitation," said College of the Canyons meteorology instructor John Makevich said Thursday.

"Until late fall, we will likely only see minor effects (perhaps the occasional low-pressure system similar to what we've seen thus far this summer)," he said via e-mail.

Residents of the Santa Clarita Valley had mixed reviews of the summer's weather so far.

"I think it's been a cooler (summer) except for a couple of weeks when I actually had to turn on my air conditioner," said Karen Ellis of Castaic.

Carl Puckett of Canyon Country said the summer has "definitely been hotter" than usual - though not the hottest he's seen in the Santa Clarita Valley.

They're both right, according to weather officials.

An energetic low-pressure system parked over the area brought cooler-than-usual temperatures early in the summer, said Bill Hoffer of the National Weather Service.

June 2009 was the seventh coolest in the SCV in 115 years, according to state climatologist Michael Andersen.

But the trend reversed itself slightly in July, with temperatures for the month registering 2 degrees above average for July.

August's information will not be available until the end of the month.

Makevich said the erratic temperatures are the result of winter-like behavior on the part of low-pressure systems.

"We definitely have had some stronger-than-normal low-pressure systems that have come off the coast, which is more typical for our winter system," Makevich said.


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