The 2009–2010 El Niño: Hydrologic Relief to U.S. Regions

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Abstract

Current forecasts by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are that the Pacific Ocean will experience El Niño conditions in late 2009 and into 2010. These forecasts are similar to past El Ni˜o events in 1972–1973, 1982–1983, 1986–1987, and 2002–2003.

Evaluating the hydrologic conditions for these past El Niño events reveals that during these times, surface water supply conditions improved in many parts of the United States, including the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. At the same time, the Pacific Northwest and other specific regions of the United States experienced below-average water supply conditions. This is consistent with the long-established linkages between oceanic-atmospheric phenomena, El Niño, and streamflow [e.g., Kahya and Dracup, 1993; Tootle et al., 2005].

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