Not El Nino, Not La Nina — La Nada

Southern California had a strangely wet winter this year. Even the experts are scratching their heads about it. Usually heavy rains correspond to the ocean current pattern known as El Nino. Not this year, as the irrepressible Bill Patzert of JPL explains:

"This season was what I call ‘La Nada,’ " Patzert said. "El Niño and La Niña tend to give structure to climate, but La Nada is like a teenager, without structure. The jet stream was on steroids, with wild fluctuations north and south."

What does it mean for the future? Not even the experts can say. The last time this pattern was recorded, Patzert says in the L.A. Times (registration required) was 1889-90.

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