Oklahoma City • Climatologists say conditions are right for development of an El Nino weather pattern that could bring wetter than normal conditions this winter in drought-stricken area of the southwestern U.S.

But weather researchers said Wednesday that even if an El Nino occurs, that doesn't assure that parched areas of the Southwest will receive more rain and snow. They also say higher-than-average precipitation is not likely to make up for rainfall deficits in the region over the past year.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says parts of the Southwest are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought, especially the Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

Gerry Bell, research meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, says El Nino rainfall could relieve drought conditions in parts of those states, but drought will persist elsewhere.