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Dry, cold winter predicted for Southern California

November 15, 2011 |  1:41 pm

La Nina predicted to head to SoCal

A top Southern California weather expert is predicting a La Niña weather pattern, which typically causes a colder and drier winter than usual.

Last year was a La Niña season as well, and although it didn’t rain consistently, when it rained it poured, said William Patzert, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory oceanographer and climate forecaster.

“Here in Southern California, after two weeks in December, my forecast was already busted,”  Patzert said. “Last winter is an example of where the statistics led us astray.”

Patzert said that a moderate-to-strong La Niña season has an 82% chance of decreased rainfall for the area. While L.A. averages 15 inches of rain per season, in La Niña years it generally gets only 10 to 12 inches, while El Niño years average 18 to 20 inches.

There’s no guarantee of any forecast, however, Patzert said. Last year the area received more than 20 inches of rain, and Patzert said it was good to keep in mind that La Niña isn’t the be-all and end-all.

“Last winter was a good example, there’s more in the climate system than La Niña,” Patzert told the La Canada Sun.

Still, Patzert said residents shouldn’t be worried about torrential downpours coming soon.

“Odds are cool and dry,” he said. “So far we’ve had some nice rain here, but nothing that heavy and nothing threatening the hillsides.”

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-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Photo: Times Community News

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