All winter, the forecast called for us to slip out of the La Nina pattern as we headed into spring. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the La Nina signals have strengthened.
The National Weather Service Meteorologist who monitors the long-range trends says what’s keeping us in a La Nina pattern is the unexpected cooling of water along the equator.
“So all of a sudden you’ve got at the surface, you’ve got these colder temperatures and you’ve got a much larger expanse of colder water underneath the surface that will contribute to keeping that anomaly stronger or colder for much longer than we were thinking,” says Megan Jones.
That colder water along the equator that Jones is referring to changes the pressure patterns in the air above it which in turn changes patterns and weather around the globe.
Looking back at similar La Nina spring seasons, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, found that, with a La Nina pattern we could see slightly cooler than normal temperatures for March through May. With the possibility of spotty above average precip with that same pattern.
With La Nina continuing into Spring, other parts of the country will be impacted differently. Tornado Alley could see heightened tornadic activity and the Atlantic hurricane season could become a little more active while the Pacific hurricane season could be much quieter.
This graph (below) shows the chances of staying in a La Nina over the next year. We still have a chance of staying in a La Nina pattern heading into the fall and maybe even for a third winter. But being this far out, the crystal ball gets a little murkier because we don’t have too many other times like this to compare to.
In fact, since 1950, we have only seen two other times where we have had three La Nina winters in a row.