High-flying test may help scientists get better read on El Nino patterns

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Scientists are hoping a new high-flying test may help them get a better read on the weather patterns as Southern California has seen little of El Nino's anticipated monster storms.

NASA's Global Hawk is the newest innovation scientists are using to measure the behavior of El Nino and to gather data to improve efforts to predict its effects on areas such as SoCal.

The unman aircraft is equipped with cameras and sensors.

So far, it's only been on test flights but will begin the real work of chasing El Nino storm patterns over the ocean next week.

Scientists are frustrated with the lack of El Nino rain in Southern California and are eager to get the bird in the air.

They said they hope to gather enough data to understand why the expected storms have yet to materialize.

"If you see an El Nino where the convection or the thunderstorms move further east, that's typically when we see more rain in California and we're not seeing that yet because these storms that respond to the heat are staying closer to the dateline west of what we'd say due south of Hawaii," explained scientist Robin Webb.

Scientists said there could also be other factors at play.

"The fact that you may not see the weather that you are expecting associated with the El Nino means that there are other factors also influencing the weather," scientist Gary Wick said.

Due to the unanswered questions with El Nino, hurricanes and more, NASA is teaming with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to put Global Hawk in the air for a five-year mission.

Despite the recent dry weather in Southern California, scientists still believe residents may be in for a surprise in late February and March.
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