LOS ANGELES — Weather forecasts show the developing El Niño in the Pacific Ocean could be one the of strongest on record, according to latimes.com.

Radar shows the system is stronger now than it was in 1997, according to climatologist Bill Patzert with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, in the article. While El Niño will bring lots of snow and rain to the parched state, the amount of precipitation could also bring harm to the state.

“Everything now is going to the right way for El Niño,” Patzert added in the article. “If this lives up to its potential, this thing can bring a lot of floods, mudslides and mayhem.”

The El Niño of 1997 doubled the state’s annual rainfall and the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is essential for its water supply, stated the article. However, flooding and mudslides caused 17 deaths in the state.

Climbing ocean temperature west of Peru is one reason why El Niño is gaining strength, noted the article. They are currently higher than this time last year. The warm water also covers a larger area.

Another factor contributing to the strong system are weakening trade winds, which contributes to the warm water, shared the article. Patzert advised in the article that if the trade winds collapse like they did in 1997, the upcoming El Niño could be larger than it was then.

State officials believe the system is unlikely to end the current severe drought conditions, reported the article. Drought could continue for several years.

I think a good way to think about it is this: There is essentially no other piece of information that is more useful in predicting California winter precipitation several months in advance than the existence of a strong El Niño event,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University, in the article. “But it’s still just one piece of the puzzle. So while the likelihood of a wet winter is increasing, we still can’t rule out other outcomes.”

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