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El Nino's winter return could hit big in Arizona

PHOENIX -- Weather experts said El Nino is on its way back and Ken Waters with the National Weather Service said that typically means big winter rain and snow storms in Arizona.

"Each passing week we're seeing stronger and stronger signals. Our confidence is moving up in that regard. There's certainly the potential of a big winter here," Waters said.

El Nino warms the Pacific Ocean and some experts said the ocean was warming in the same fashion as 1997-98, which brought Arizona one of its wettest winters. Called by many "The Great El Nino," many scientists believe once it ended, that's when Arizona went into its current drought.

Waters said a repeat of rain and snowfall from that year would be nice but not a drought-buster.

"It's tough to go against so many years of drought," he said. "It will take a lot to put away the drought once and for all. In the Southwest, El Nino is very much a wintertime event. We're talking October to March and maybe April.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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