It’s here. What does that mean for our winter?

Doyle Rice

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USA TODAY

La Niña, the cooler sibling of El Niño, is here.

The La Niña climate pattern — a natural cycle marked by cooler-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean — is one of the main drivers of weather in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

Federal government forecasters announced La Niña’s formation Thursday. The Climate Prediction Center says this year’s La Niña (translated from Spanish as “little girl”)  is on the weak side, but it should still continue through the winter.

This is the second consecutive La Niña winter. Last year’s episode was unusually brief, forming in November and gone by February. 

A typical La Niña winter in the U.S. brings cold and snow to the Northwest and unusually dry conditions to most of the southern tier of the U.S., according to the prediction center. The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic also tend to see warmer-than-average temperatures during a La Niña winter. 

More: Winter weather forecast: Warm, dry for southern U.S.; snowy and cold in the Northwest, Great Lakes

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