Just a few months ago, the forecast for a wet winter looked promising. But the summer has revealed a drier future.
Now, the climate foresight is part of the extensive oceans exhibit at the California Science Center in Exposition Park with a global view of what covers 70 percent of the earth.
Chuck Kopczak, the center's curator of ecology, has been keeping a close watch on a developing El Niño in the western Pacific Ocean, which has led to wet winters in Southern California in the past.
"We're hoping for rain, we need rain," Kopczak told NBC4 Thursday. "That warm water that is evaporating into the atmosphere bringing more humidity, more moisture in the air, and of course if we've got more moisture in the air, there's more water to fall as rain."
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NASA satellites indicated a strong El Niño was taking shape this year, but the National Weather Service reduced the odds that it will develop by next winter from 80 percent to 65 percent.
The NWS found the warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean had actually reversed in July, and an expected atmospheric signal of El Niño has yet to emerge.
"And so it's the difference in air pressure between those two points in the Pacific Ocean that sort of details or determines how strong an El Niño might be," Kopczak said.
With climate so difficult to predict, experts still aren't sure the amount of warming that will take place, and how much rain -- if any -- will be the result.
"We just hope," Kopczak said. "All the cards have to fall in the right order in order for it to produce a lot of rain necessarily."