La Niña check-in

January 20, 2017: We are roughly half way through the current winter, so here’s a check-in on one large influence on how the overall winter conditions play out: La Niña. A weak La Niña has set up this winter in the Pacific. Despite its weak strength, we are getting a pretty good helping of what a typical La Niña brings to our area: precipitation.

el nino to la nina

A quick refresher: La Niña is when ocean temperatures in the Pacific near South America are colder than usual for an extended time during the winter.

la nina

This influences the jet stream pattern over North America, and generally brings a wet and cooler conditions to the northern U.S. We generally get a wetter winter, but not necessarily a colder winter.

How do we rank so far in temperature and precipitation? Temperatures haven’t been far off of average so far this winter. We’ve had some very cold days, but they’ve been balanced out by some pretty warm ones too.

la nina temps

Precipitation is a different story, and this is where we can point to La Niña as a possible influence. December was definitely above average for snowfall, but essentially was near average for precipitation. After a lot of rain (doesn’t have to be snow!) earlier this week, January is well on the way to be above average for precipitation (and way below average for snow).

la nina precip

Looking ahead, February shouldn’t see much of an La Niña influence, since the ocean temperatures in the Pacific look to warm back to average and stay there for a while. While we are under La Niña’s spell, plan on a few more soggy stretches before the winter is over.

-Alex

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 20, 2017

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