Disappointing May weather put Tooele City another inch behind the water year’s anticipated precipitation total — but National Weather Service meteorologists believe change may be brewing in the eastern Pacific ocean.
Tooele saw just .82 inches of precipitation last month, compared to a normal 1.91 inches for the month of May, according to figures from Ned Bevan, a cooperative weather observer for the NWS.
The one-inch deficit brings Tooele’s water year total to 11.43 inches, more than 2.5 inches behind normal.
May temperatures hovered right around normal, with an average high of 72 degrees and an average low of 50, according to Bevan. Normal May temperatures in Tooele range from 72 to 48 degrees, according to the Western Regional Climate Center.
Temperatures are expected to increase to above-normal levels across most of Tooele County next month, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. However, the forecast for June precipitation remains murky.
Though temperatures are expected to remain high, the NWS has tentatively predicted above-normal precipitation for the county in July and August this year on account of a possible El Niño event developing in the Pacific Ocean.
Extended El Niño events occur roughly once every three to seven years. They occur when a powerful current in the Pacific Ocean pushes warm water from the ocean north of Australia across the ocean to the Peruvian coast. El Niño’s impact can be felt throughout the western hemisphere.
In South America, the warm current kills fish offshore of Peru and Ecuador, causing significant harm to those countries’ economies. In North America, and particularly in the western United States, El Niño brings warm temperatures and above-average rainfall. Large El Niño events can also suppress hurricane development in the Atlantic.
The National Weather Service issued an El Niño watch last month. The watch declared a 65 percent or greater chance of a late-summer El Niño event this year.