The beauty of Dolores — and a wet El Niño?

The El Niño excitement begins early, as the LA Times explains in blunt newspaper prose:

A washed-out bridge on Interstate 10 that cut off a vital shipping route with Arizona, mudslides in Moreno Valley and snarled Southern California freeway traffic from heavy weekend rain is only a preview of problems that could come with a strong El Niño this winter, forecasters say.

The weekend storm that washed over the region Saturday and Sunday was not only remarkable for its timing — July rain storms are rare events in Southern California — but for its strength, the National Weather Service said.

The El Niño phenomenon that has warmed Pacific waters has apparently laid out a welcome mat for tropical storms to creep north, closer to the California coast than during normal years, allowing for systems such as Tropical Storm Dolores to bring muggy, rainy weather to the West’s parched landscape, said Stuart Seto, an National Weather Service specialist.

“Even though Dolores is a pretty good wake-up call for us, we should start preparing for late August or early September,” Seto said, saying that’s when the region could see more sustained rains.

Here’s a loop showing its backwards spin, courtesy of the National Weather Service.

And Jason Samenow, a great lover of weather and a tremendous news and science writer, digs into the data and the graphs indicating that this one could be “the strongest in history” for the Washington Post.

Spectacular images of the warmth of the ocean:

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