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El Nino drenches southern California.

The long arms of El Nino have reached across the Pacific Ocean to play havoc with U.S. weather this winter. As warming intensified in the equatorial Pacific, it altered atmospheric wind patterns to send heavy rains in the direction of southern California, as well as to states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

Parts of Los Angeles County received more than 8 inches of rain in three separate storms between Feb. 6 and Feb. 16, generating mudslides and floods that killed several people. Up to 15 inches of rain fell in some mountain areas in southern California, according to the National Weather Service's Climate Analysis Center in Camp Springs, Md. And from December through February, severe storms dropped over 25 inches of rain in south-central Texas.

Meteorologists had expected wetter-than-normal weather for Texas because records show the Gulf states tend to get above-average rainfall during El Ninos. But California has proved a harder state to call. Some El Ninos, such as the mammoth one in 1982-1983, have doused the state, while others have left it drier than normal, says Chester Ropelewski of the Climate Analysis Center. On the other side of the Pacific, Indonesia and Australia typically suffer dry spells during El Ninos.
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Title Annotation:weather current
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 7, 1992
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