WX Blog: What is La Niña?


La Niña, or ‘the girl’, is a phenomena of anomalously cool temperatures over a portion of the tropical Pacific. It is a part of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which is one of many global oscillations which can have a short to long term impact on global weather patterns.

ENSO Impacts Diagram
Courtesy: NOAA/cliamate.gov

How La Niña impacts the United States:

When La Niña conditions are present in the Pacific we can expect a variety of things to happen across the Continental United States (CONUS). It’s important to remember when looking at the diagrams below that each La Niña event is unique and doesn’t always follow these exact patterns!

Generally, a La Niña event indicates a period of above average temperatures in the Southern and Mid-Atlantic states while the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Tier end up falling below average. Precipitation patterns are also impacted, drier conditions are expected from the Desert Southwest though the Southeastern US. While wetter than average conditions are expected in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwestern states.

Now these impacts will vary based on the strength of the La Niña and various other factors such as the other global oscillations. But for now, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75-percent chance of La Niña lasting into winter. So it looks like we better find the rain boots because most of West Virginia is already at a surplus for the year as it is.

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