Confused by the wacky weather? Blame El Nino - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Confused by the wacky weather? Blame El Nino

The high Mississippi River creates a mini waterfall in the Bonnet Carre Spillway (John Snell) The high Mississippi River creates a mini waterfall in the Bonnet Carre Spillway (John Snell)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

As winter beckons, South Louisiana is left with a distinctly late summer, or early fall, feel.

The extended forecast calls for a Christmas Day high in metro New Orleans approaching 80 degrees, roughly 15 degrees above normal.

Upriver from New Orleans, the Mississippi River took on the look of springtime. The river level got high enough this week for water to gush through the lower bays of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

"This is the fourth time that we have enacted a flood fight in the 2015 year," a Corps spokesman.

Normally, a rising river results from the spring snow melt in the northern U.S.  In this case, heavy rains in the Midwest and northeastern regions of the country swelled the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Valleys.

"It takes, maybe, two weeks to reach us," said FOX 8 Chief Meteorologist Bob Breck. "But it's higher than a typical December period."

The river is already falling, down 0.10 feet Sunday to 12.13 ft at the Carrollton gauge. The National Weather Service forecasts it will drop to 11.70 ft. by Monday.  

Forecasters say there is no indication that the spillway would have to be opened to prevent flooding downriver.

If the weather strikes you as wacky, blame El Nino, the same weather phenomenon thought to have produced such a calm Atlantic and Gulf hurricane season in 2015.

The warming of the Pacific waters creates wind shear that knocks the cloud tops off developing storms.

In the winter of El Nino years, South Louisiana tends to be warmer and much wetter.

While the El Nino rains seem to have fallen far to the north, Breck expects the pattern to shift to the south.

"It's still in the peak El Nino phase, where we should be getting a more active storm track," Breck said.  "That just hasn't happened yet this year."

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