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El Nino’s quiet start in Arizona could get a little louder in the spring

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — January may have been warm-up act for El Nino-driven storms in Arizona.

With the exception of a few wet days in the Valley and several feet of snow in the high country last month, the weather phenomenon that can deliver big rain and snowfall to Arizona during the winter and spring hasn’t lived up to the hype.

Rob Carlmark, a meteorologist in Sacramento, California, said last month could have been just its warm-up act.

“You have to think about El Nino like a football game,” Carlmark said. “There’s four quarters and we know roughly what the final score will be but you have to play out each quarter.

“You have to take it storm by storm and pattern by pattern. When it turns on, it really turns on. That’s what we’re all looking for. I see something interesting coming late next week.”

While it has been relatively quiet in here, that has not been in case in the thirsty Pacific Northwest.

“They were in a severe drought and almost eliminated that drought in portions of Oregon and Washington within about a month. Nobody saw that coming and we’re grateful that it did,” Carlmark said.

Carlmark said there was a connection between this year’s El Nino and 1983’s strong El Nino.

“March is the make-or-break month. This El Nino is so strong we’re looking at impacts into April and possibly May. El Nino takes months to develop and months to play out.”

Even with a quiet start to winter Flagstaff has had 71 inches of snow. That mark was 18 inches above normal for this time of year.

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