SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued a La Niña advisory, estimating a 75-percent chance the conditions will last into this upcoming winter.
El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of a naturally occurring climate phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
Put simply, El Niño is when water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is warmer than normal, and La Niña is the opposite: when that water is cooler than normal. Generally speaking, for the northern United States in the winter, El Niños lead to warmer and drier conditions, and a La Niña leads to cooler and wetter conditions.
There are many natural climate factors that can influence winter weather here, but El Niño and La Niña have the most significant natural impact. The strongest La Niña effects are felt in the northwest, especially the cold, but La Niña changes the jet stream, allowing for some cold outbreaks in the northeast too.
This pattern does not guarantee a cooler and wetter winter for here in Massachusetts because of other unnatural factors, like warming winters due to climate change, but it still plays a part in the forecast. We’ll have to get through this autumn to have a better idea of what to expect for this upcoming winter. The strength of an El Niño or La Niña also affects the forecast.