La Niña is likely to hang around through the spring, with a transition to neutral favored for the May–July period. Hop in, and we’ll cruise through some updates on current conditions and the recent past!
On the road again
The November–January average Oceanic Niño Index, that is, the three-month-average sea surface temperature anomaly in the Niño-3.4 region of the tropical Pacific, was -1.0 °C. Anomaly means the difference from the long-term average; long-term is currently 1991–2020. This marks our fifth three-month period in a row with an Oceanic Niño Index that exceeds the La Niña threshold of -0.5 °C. Passing this mile marker means this La Niña has persisted long enough to be awarded a bold blue color in our historical table. Congratulations, La Niña 2021–22, already the second La Niña of this young decade.
Will there be a third? We still don’t have a very clear picture of that. Right now, there’s a 77% chance that La Niña will last through the spring (March–May), largely based on computer model forecasts and bolstered by a recent uptick in the trade winds. Neutral is most likely for summer (June–August), with a 57% chance. By fall (September–November), neutral still has the edge, but forecasters can’t currently give any category a strong chance.
Every day is a winding road
ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation, the entire El Niño/La Niña system) is a seasonal forecaster’s best friend because it changes atmospheric circulation in (somewhat) predictable ways, allowing us to get an early picture of how the average seasonal climate might turn out. For example, during La Niña, the Pacific jet stream tends to be retracted to the west, and high pressure often forms south of Alaska. These effects tend to lead to a colder Northwest/warmer Southeast pattern over North America, along with more rain and snow than average in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio/Tennessee valleys, and drier conditions across the southern tier of states.
I’m sure you noticed all the qualifying words in the previous paragraph. “Somewhat,” “might,” “tends,” etc. Believe me, I wish we could make stronger statements and more confident predictions! But I try to remember that it’s pretty amazing that we can get any idea of what the average weather might be like months into the future, given our complex and wildly chaotic Earth system. La Niña doesn’t guarantee warmer weather in the southeast or dry conditions in southern California—far from it—but it makes those conditions more likely overall.
There’s more that goes into the seasonal forecast than ENSO, of course, like trends, or other climate patterns. Check out Mike Halpert’s post on the winter outlook for an overview of the seasonal outlook process, and a set of maps that illustrate just how much outcomes can vary from one La Niña event to another. That said, ENSO has a big imprint on the seasonal forecast. You can see the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for November–January 2021–22 here.
The November–January average temperature ended up looking a lot like what we’d expect during La Niña: colder than average through Canada, warmer over most of the US. Not exactly the same, but reasonably similar.
Seasonal climate averages matter—for example, your heating bill is going to reflect if the winter was warmer or colder than average overall. However, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, like when you have a December that’s 6° F warmer than average, followed by a hair-pin turn into a January that’s 2° F colder than average. (Hello, Annapolis area!) More on this just a mile down the road.
The precipitation map for November–January also looks a fair bit like the typical La Niña impacts map for this season. Lots of rain and snow in the Pacific Northwest, substantially drier than average through the south-central and southeastern states.
Shut up and drive
If we break December and January out individually, we can see some big changes between the two, especially in temperature, and rain/snow in California. For simplicity, I left out November here. You can toggle between the various months for precipitation and temperature in the IRI Maproom.
What’s behind these big swings? It’s tough to do a full attribution in the time I have to write my monthly ENSO Blog post, but we do have some thoughts about a culprit. The Pacific-North American pattern (aka the PNA) is a major atmospheric circulation pattern that has a big impact on North American weather. The PNA’s positive phase is primarily characterized by below-average air pressure over the North Pacific and above-average pressure over northwestern North America.
The negative phase of the PNA is the opposite: higher pressure south of Alaska, lower pressure over Canada. Be sure to check out Michelle’s post on the PNA, featuring one of our more excellent titles; the PNA Index can be viewed here. During La Niña, the PNA tends to be in its negative phase (that higher pressure over the north Pacific should sound familiar from earlier in this post). However, the PNA can change quickly, so, like the weather, the relationship to ENSO is weaker on a month-to-month basis.
December 2021 featured the strongest negative winter monthly PNA pattern on record (1950–present). Then, in January 2022, the PNA moved into a positive phase, making the largest jump on record from one December to January. Why did the PNA flip? That is a topic for another day. The PNA can be affected by other climate patterns, but, as Michelle says in her earlier post, “a large chunk of the PNA is internally driven.” This means that apparently random, chaotic behavior, aka internal variability, often determines the state of the PNA.
The PNA is forecasted to move back into a more La Niña-consistent negative phase in mid-late February, so this La Niña is not done with us yet. With Nature behind the wheel, we’re all just along for the ride. However, that’s not going to stop us from trying to figure out where we’re going, and how we got where we are! See you next month.
Synopsis: There is a 76% chance of La Niña during the Northern Hemisphere winter (December-February) 2022-23, with a transition to ENSO-neutral favored in February-April 2023 (57% chance). Below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) strengthened in the east-central Pacific Ocean during the past month [Fig. 1].How long will current La Niña last? ›
WMO Global Producing Centres of Long-Range Forecasts predict the continuation of the current La Niña into the boreal winter of 2022/2023, with a 75% chance in December-February 2022/2023, and 60% in January-March 2023.Is this El Niño or La Niña 2022? ›
There's a 75% chance La Niña will be present this winter (December–February); forecasters favor a transition to neutral during February–April 2023.Is La Niña cooling or warming? ›
La Niña is a climate pattern that describes the cooling of surface ocean waters along the tropical west coast of South America. La Nina is considered to be the counterpart to El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.Will 2022 be a rough winter? ›
AccuWeather is predicting that a large portion of the country will experience below-normal snowfall. AccuWeather's official 2022-2023 U.S. winter forecast is rather bleak for snow lovers.Is El Niño coming back 2022? ›
El Nino Is Coming In 2023 And Then The Gleissberg 100-Year Drought Cycle For Midwest In 2024-2025.Is La Niña 2022 weakening? ›
Latest forecasts show the La Nina to remain active and stable going into Winter 2022/23, bringing along a wide palette of weather effects. La Nina was mentioned many times over the past seasons, in the same breath as seasonal weather forecasts.Is La Niña increasing? ›
Chances of La Niña gradually decrease through the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter, with ENSO-neutral favored beginning in February-April 2023.Is La Niña coming to an end? ›
La Niña weather pattern to end in early 2023, BoM predicts. Sunny skies may finally be on the horizon, with Bureau of Meteorology modelling suggesting an end to the La Niña weather pattern early next year.Is La Niña wet or dry? ›
Rain clouds normally form over warm ocean water. La Niña blows all of this warm water to the western Pacific. This means that places like Indonesia and Australia can get much more rain than usual. However, the cold water in the eastern Pacific causes less rain clouds to form there.
A La Niña winter tends to be cooler and wetter in the Pacific Northwest and hotter and drier in the U.S. Southwest. Other worldwide effects include drier conditions in East Africa, and rainier weather in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.Is El Niño wet or dry? ›
El Niño typically means:
Reduced rainfall. Warmer temperatures. Shift in temperature extremes.
La Niña causes the jet stream to move northward and to weaken over the eastern Pacific. During La Niña winters, the South sees warmer and drier conditions than usual. The North and Canada tend to be wetter and colder. During La Niña, waters off the Pacific coast are colder and contain more nutrients than usual.What do you do during La Niña? ›
Stay inside a house or building during heavy rains. Avoid wading and taking baths in floodwaters. When a flood advisory is issued, residents in low lying areas should seek for higher grounds. Avoid crossing low-lying areas and bridges during evacuation.Does La Niña make winter warmer? ›
File. This year La Niña returns for the third consecutive winter, driving warmer-than-average temperatures for the Southwest and along the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard, according to NOAA's U.S. Winter Outlook released today by the Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service.Will 2022 be a good year for snow? ›
The U.S. 2022-2023 Winter Forecast
The Farmer's Almanac is predicting an earlier, heavier, and colder snow season in many areas of the country, including possible record-breaking temperatures as low as -40°F may be seen in several regions.
The average global temperature for 2022 is forecast to be between 0.97°C and 1.21°C (with a central estimate of 1.09 °C) above the average for the pre-industrial period (1850-1900): the eighth year in succession when temperatures have exceeded 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels.Will 2022 be a snowy winter in the Northeast? ›
Precipitation and snowfall will be above average in the east and below average in the west. The snowiest periods will be in late November, early to mid-January, and February. Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in early to mid-January and early to mid-February.Is El Niño or La Niña worse? ›
Overall, El Niño contributes to more eastern and central Pacific hurricanes and fewer Atlantic hurricanes while, conversely, La Niña contributes to fewer eastern and central Pacific hurricanes and more Atlantic hurricanes..Are we in a strong La Niña? ›
Current forecaster consensus gives La Niña the edge through January–March (54%), with a 56% chance of neutral for the February–April period. NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecast for each of the three possible ENSO categories for the next 8 overlapping 3-month seasons.
La Niña typically brings drier conditions to the southern half of the country and wetter conditions to the northern half, but where that dividing line falls varies from year to year. Sometimes La Niña splits California in two, bringing lots of rain to Northern California and drought to Southern California.What kind of winter does La Niña bring? ›
NOAA forecasts that the expected La Niña winter season, which is from December 2022 to February 2023, in the U.S. won't be atypical, as the northern Plains, Rockies and Pacific Northwest will also experience cooler temperatures; the South will be hotter than normal and the East Coast may be warmer than it usually is ...Where is La Niña now? ›
La Niña continues in the tropical Pacific. Atmospheric and oceanic indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) reflect a mature La Niña, including tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), and tropical cloud patterns.Does La Niña mean more rain Bay? ›
The rain forecast is the result of data from past winters marked by La Niña. While the Bay Area has seen more abnormally dry winters during La Niña years, it has also average years and unusually wet ones.What can I expect from a La Niña winter? ›
A moderate La Niña tends to lead to warmer weather in the southern half of the country. During these events, freezes tend to be fewer and farther between in the South. Most of the country sees either normal or drier-than-average conditions, which leads to less rain and snowfall.Does La Niña mean a dry winter? ›
La Niña typically means:
Increased rainfall across much of Australia. Cooler daytime temperatures (south of the tropics) Warmer overnight temperatures (in the north) Shift in temperature extremes.
Warmer and drier winters are more likely during La Niña over more southern states, and this is exactly where seasonal snowfall tends to be reduced (4).Is La Niña caused by global warming? ›
La Niña and her brother El Niño are amplified by the effects of climate change, and, in turn, worsen climate change itself. According to SciJinks, “Like many siblings, the two weather patterns are opposites in almost every way. La Niña causes water in the eastern Pacific to be colder than usual.What should we not do during El Niño? ›
Don't walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Children should NEVER play around high water, storm drains, viaducts, or arroyos. Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.Who gets rain during El Niño? ›
In one ironic twist, rainfall increases over the Eastern Pacific during an El Niño, which benefits life on the land. Even though life in the ocean is starving or moving to new feeding grounds, the plants and animals of the Galapagos and along the west coasts of North and South America usually get bountiful rain.
The climate phenomenon known as La Nina sets off a chain reaction among weather patterns the world over. That can lead to more drought in some places even as it produces flooding and hurricanes in others. La Nina occurs when the surface of the Pacific Ocean along the equator cools and the atmosphere above it reacts.How does El Niño and La Niña affect humans? ›
For example, in the Southern United States, during the fall through spring, El Niño usually causes increased rainfall and sometimes destructive flooding. La Niña, however, usually causes drier weather in the South, but the Northwest tends to be colder and wetter than average.Is using tap water to prepare food is safe during the La Niña? ›
Avoid drinking tap water – or using tap water to prepare food – until you are sure that it has not been contaminated.How do people prepare for La Niña? ›
- Trim overgrown trees. Trim back overhanging tree branches and remove dangerous trees situated too close to your home. ...
- Clean storm water drains. Storm water drains are essential for allowing excess water to exit your property. ...
- Check your roof for leaks.
It looks like La Niña will stick around for another winter season. This typically means a warmer and drier than average December, January and February for Central Florida.What does a La Niña winter mean for the Northeast? ›
Northeast. La Niña winters tend to be rather chilly in the region, and precipitation usually becomes a story of the haves and have-nots. Winter weather enthusiasts need to look no further back than last year to see the impacts of a substantial La Niña.Will there be La Niña 2023? ›
La Niña weather pattern to end in early 2023, BoM predicts. Sunny skies may finally be on the horizon, with Bureau of Meteorology modelling suggesting an end to the La Niña weather pattern early next year.Will it be a warm summer 2022? ›
On average, we're predicting summer temperatures to be hotter than normal across most of the country, ranging from the Atlantic Corridor south to Florida, across to the West Coast, and almost everywhere in between.