Published Tuesday, November 19, 2002 in the San Jose Mercury News

Weather Corner

Bad boy El Niņo wasn't the cause of recent storms

Special to the Mercury News

Let's set the record straight on the recent storms -- El Niņo was not to blame.

This weather phenomenon, the alleged bad boy of the tropics, was upgraded from weak to moderate status by national weather watchers on the same day that the Bay Area was recently lashed by 50-mph winds and heavy rain.

This caused some to think the storm was caused by El Niņo. That's not the case. El Niņo stays in the tropics and does not cause individual storms to develop.

But the upgrade of the current El Niņo to a ``moderate event'' does change some of the thinking about the upcoming rainfall season.

When El Niņo gets stronger, the storm track is generally more affected and California sees more rainfall than normal. There is now a slightly higher probability that the rainfall season will be above normal in central California and a good probability of above normal rain this winter for Southern California.

For the latest information on El Niņo visit

Jan Null's full column will return December 3.

Jan Null, founder of Golden Gate Weather Services, is a retired lead forecaster with the National Weather Service. Send questions to him c/o WeatherCorner, San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190. You also can telephone questions at (510) 657-2246, fax them to (510) 315-3015, e-mail them to or fill out a form online at Please indicate in your e-mail what city you live in.