The Climate Prediction Center's latest prediction for whether this year will be an El Niño one is out and it's likely than ever that it will be, with an 80% by this fall. But there's surprisingly good news: it may also be a weaker event than previously thought, especially compared to the similar conditions in 1997.

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DISCUSSION

I'm actually glad that we wont' be getting storms as severe as '97 (although this is disappointing if this means there's a reduced chance of rain at all).

From this report on that winter:

During the month of February 1998, California was struck by a series of storms due in part to the affects of El Nino. The current estimates indicate over $550 million in damages for the state, with that total expected to climb. The state also reported 17 storm-related deaths for the winter, and 35 counties were declared federal disaster areas.