PASADENA ( — The anticipated blockbuster return of El Niño is looking more like it will be a flop, a climatologist said Monday.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that unless developing weak-to-modest El Niño conditions strengthen, California will continue to stay bone dry.

El Niño describes a weather pattern involving a warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a condition that is associated with increased rainfall on the west coast of North America. El Niño conditions in 1997 and 1998 doubled rainfall up and down California, Patzert said.

“Those very strong El Niños happen every 30 or 40 years. Most are more modest and are not good forecasters of heavy rainfall,” he said.

Patzert said that if the ’97 event was a Godzilla El Niño , the weather pattern shaping up now in the eastern Pacific is more like “El Gecko.”

“It is not going to be a drought-buster,” he said.

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