A U.S. government weather forecaster broke the bad news to those living in the Northern Hemisphere that La Niña is likely to persist there throughout the winter. What exactly does that mean for the United States? It means that the weather is going to be rough for a little while.
La Niña is defined as a period of time where abnormally cold ocean temperatures persist throughout the equatorial Pacific causing an influx of floods and droughts depending on your location. It’s the opposite phase of the more commonly known El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle.
According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) monthly forecast, the likelihood of La Niña developing is between 85% and 95%. “Based on the latest observations and forecast guidance, forecasters believe this weak-to-moderate La Niña is currently peaking and will eventually weaken into the spring,” said the agency.
La Niña conditions last occured in early 2016, which was the first time they had been recorded since 2012. Those conditions faded away in early 2017, but look to be resurfacing in the near future.
The good news is that La Niña situations are typically much less intense than El Niño ones. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to nail down a satisfactorily accurate way of predicting when La Niña is going to occur. The best estimate they can give is that it unpredictably occurs somewhere within a two to seven year time span.
La Niña years are best characterized by winter temperatures that are warmer than normal in the Southeast United States and cooler than normal in the Northwest. Residents of the United States can look forward to these conditions in the coming months.