A wetter than normal start to 2016 in metro Atlanta

Rain has been popping up in weather forecasts weekly for metro Atlanta.

Storms, a mix of heavy and freezing rain, drenched the metro area a couple weeks ago. And showers — minus the freezing part — will again wet the city this week.

In fact, the frequent pitter-pattering on rooftops and windshields has led to higher than normal rainfall thus far in 2016 for Atlanta weather, and National Weather Service meteorologists said El Nino is to blame.

Atlanta has gotten 14.17 inches of rain since Jan. 1, which is 4 inches more than the 10.17 inches the National Weather Service Peachtree City deems as normal for the area, according to preliminary data.

More rain has fallen in Atlanta since Jan. 1 than in nine other areas of Georgia, including Athens, Cartersville, Columbus, the DeKalb–Peachtree Airport, the Fulton County Airport, Gainesville, Macon, Peachtree and Rome.

Those cities — even Cartersville, which got slightly more rain than Atlanta from January to early March last year — got between 7 and 14 inches of rain through early March.

Atlanta experienced 9.16 inches of rainfall and Cartersville got 9.31 inches from January to early March 2015.

Nine Georgia locations, Macon being the exception, had more rain in early 2016 than they did in early 2015 — a trend not unique to Georgia.

Southern states throughout the country have been charting wetter weather due in large part to a recurring climate pattern known as El Nino.

El Niño, which can trigger disruptions in temperature, precipitation and wind, occurs when warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures persist across the equatorial Pacific Ocean for six months or longer.

Dave Nadler, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the weather pattern began about the end of summer last year and peaked late that year, when increased temperatures led meteorologists to deem that season’s round of El Nino one of the strongest since the late 1990s.

“Now we’re on kind of a downward trend,” Nadler said, expecting the weather patterns to continue through early this fall.