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Is A Drought-Busting El Nino Brewing Out West?

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH, Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) – North Texas is already nine inches behind in rainfall for 2014.  That has home owners bracing for dying lawns, boaters left high and dry at lakes and meteorologists looking at the water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Ocean is where the best chance of a drought-busting change in weather is brewing:  El Nino.

“Normally during an El Nino year you’re supposed to be a little bit cooler — at least during January, February and March — and a lot wetter,” said Mark Fox, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Periodically, the warm waters of the western Pacific pushes across the ocean and close enough to the U.S. to change our weather.

For parched north Texas, it could mean higher than average rain showers.

So what are the chances of an El Nino year?

“It’s looking pretty good,” Fox said.  “I think officially we’re up to 65 to 70 percent of getting into an El Nino pattern.”

“That would be, if it develops, the best shot of getting above average or at least normal precipitation for maybe several months at a time in, really, the last four years,” said CBS 11 Chief Meteorolgist Larry Mowry.

But as much as Texas needs the rain, El Nino is can also be a double edged sword.

The El Nino in 1997 and ’98 brought months of rain, saturating the ground.  And when it finally rained hard central Texas from Austin to San Antonio flooded.  Some predict this El Nino will affect us mostly in the cold months.  So, colder temperatures and more moisture:

“Well, you can do the math in your head,” Mowry said.  “That means there’s a higher possibility of sleet, snow, ice and rain over next winter.  The good news we get more precipitation.  The bad news is, who knows what we get in terms of ice and snow.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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