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La Niña Weather Patterns May Affect the US This Winter

What will winter be like where you live?

By:  |  November 29, 2021  |    529 Words
weather enso patterns

Picture credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Climate patterns have a big effect on our local weather. If your state is experiencing droughts or floods, or the temperature is warmer or colder than usual, climate patterns have everything to do with it. This year, the U.S. is expected to experience a La Niña event, which could cause weather changes across the country.

What Are El Niño and La Niña?

The ocean’s temperature compared to the air temperature can cause an El Niño or La Niña event.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle is a rise or fall in the temperature of the ocean water compared to the atmosphere. It occurs in parts of the tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño and La Niña are parts of the ENSO cycle. They usually last between nine and 12 months but can go on for years.

ENSO weather

(Picture credit: NOAA)

El Niño, Spanish for “the little boy,” is a climate pattern in which winds from the east to the west die down. This causes the air to get warmer in parts of the tropical Pacific and brings stormier weather in the Americas.

La Niña, Spanish for “the little girl,” is nearly the opposite of El Niño. La Niña events take place when the winds get stronger. As a result, the Eastern and central parts of the tropical Pacific get colder, while temperatures and amounts of rainfall increase in the west.

Weather forecasters think La Niña will be active this winter.

Winter Weather Predictions for the United States

El Niño and La Niña conditions are said to be strongest in the winter months. This means the U.S. will see the effects of La Niña most strongly between December 2021 and February 2022. Snow is hard to forecast, but parts of the U.S. are expected to get more snow than usual. So, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, or the Upper Midwest Great Lakes region, you may want to go pick out the perfect sled and snowsuit because you are predicted to get more snow than usual this winter.

la nina weather

Weather effects of La Niña on the U.S. (Picture credit: NOAA)

La Niña and warmer Atlantic waters can cause Atlantic hurricanes. Hurricanes normally form during the summer, but it’s possible La Niña could keep hurricanes around for longer this year. There are ten states that are most affected by Atlantic hurricanes: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New York, and Massachusetts.

California’s drought conditions and wildfires could get worse because of La Niña. California gets most of its rain between the months of November and April. Unfortunately, La Niña will throw the normal weather patterns off track, causing the much-needed rain to happen somewhere else.

Whatever beautiful state you call home, be ready for some different-than-normal weather conditions this winter. Between increased snowfall, hurricanes, and droughts, each region in the United States could face harsher weather this winter.

Test your knowledge with a quiz based on this article!

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