Sweltering, Smoking California Waits for Rain

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – Global temperatures in August soared past heat records for the sixth month this year and the persistent warming trend will likely make 2015 the hottest year on record, researchers said Thursday.
     Average August temperatures were 1.58 degrees higher than 20th century averages, bolstered by the brewing El Nino system in the Pacific Ocean, according to scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information.
     Five of the 10 warmest months ever recorded by the NCEI were recorded this year, which has a 97 percent chance of being the hottest ever recorded. Global temperatures have been above average for 368 consecutive months, dating back to the mid 1980s.
     The global heat wave has coincided with a strengthening El Nino pattern expected to bring extreme weather to several parts of the globe, including drought-ridden California. Scientists upgraded the probability of a strong El Nino lasting through the winter to 95 percent.
     Historically, the stronger El Nino the more rain and snow it brings to the Golden State. Thursday’s report reveals the weather pattern is beginning to resemble large El Nino winters of 1997-98 and 1982-83, which wreaked havoc on the state.
     El Nino is declared when water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rise above normal for three consecutive months. They typically occur every two to seven years. While El Nino patterns often bring above-normal rainfall to Southern California, the impact on Northern California is unpredictable.
     California may have seen a preview of a strong El Nino this week when Southern California received record rainfall. Downtown Los Angeles got an unseasonable 2.39 inches of rain Tuesday, breaking the record of .03 inches for the day. The barrage of rain was caused by moisture from tropical storm Linda and was the wettest day in Los Angeles in more than four years.
     El Nino is not expected to bring relief to California as it suffers through extreme wildfires and drought until later this year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s extended forecast shows warmer than average temperatures for California through December.
     California’s fire destructive fire season turned deadly this week as officials announced deaths in the Valley and Butte fires. The wildfires still raging through California have claimed more than 800 homes and charred 150,000 acres.

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