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El Nino’s winter return could hit big in Arizona

PHOENIX — Weather experts said El Nino is on its way back and Ken Waters with the National Weather Service said that typically means big winter rain and snow storms in Arizona.

“Each passing week we’re seeing stronger and stronger signals. Our confidence is moving up in that regard. There’s certainly the potential of a big winter here,” Waters said.

El Nino warms the Pacific Ocean and some experts said the ocean was warming in the same fashion as 1997-98, which brought Arizona one of its wettest winters. Called by many “The Great El Nino,” many scientists believe once it ended, that’s when Arizona went into its current drought.

Waters said a repeat of rain and snowfall from that year would be nice but not a drought-buster.

“It’s tough to go against so many years of drought,” he said. “It will take a lot to put away the drought once and for all. In the Southwest, El Nino is very much a wintertime event. We’re talking October to March and maybe April.