El Nino could return to Arizona next winter

Mar 7, 2014, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:00 am

PHOENIX — Federal forecasters say the Pacific Ocean waters are getting ready to warm up and that could mean great news for the Southwest.

The last major El Nino event in Arizona, which was the winter of 2009 and 2010, hammered the Valley with several powerful rainstorms and brought heavy snowfall to the high country. In January 2010, Flagstaff was isolated for several days when all of the interstates were closed. Dan Leins with the National Weather Service says there’s no guarantee that we will see a repeat performance.

“We could certainly use it,” Leins said. “We’ve certainly had a couple of dry winters. Any sign of rain on the horizon is a good thing. It’s just too early to tell if this upcoming winter is going to be wet or dry.”

Arizona Snowbowl had 325 inches of snow during the last El Nino, which was described by some experts as El Nino on steroids.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration Thursday issued an official El Nino watch. NOAA Climate Prediction Center director Mike Halpert said the warming should be in place this summer.

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El Nino could return to Arizona next winter