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La Nina is on its final leg. What's next?

Pacific ocean temperature anomaly
Posted at 2:49 PM, Feb 17, 2023

After a three-year streak, La Nina is coming to an end. Now for the 2nd month in a row, La Nina has weakened and will continue to do so through the rest of winter.

La Nina is characterized as colder than normal water temperatures in the eastern Pacific. Below, you can see how the cold pool of ocean water off the west coast of South America has diminished since December.

The Climate Prediction Center forecasts that La Nina will end by late winter, leading to neutral conditions in Springs. By summer, there is an equal probability of neutral and El Nino. The current forecast is a 60% probability of El Nino forming in Fall 2023.

The ENSO pattern has an impact on the atmosphere and the weather patterns in the United States. An El Nino has more or less the opposite impact on the U.S. as La Nina.

An EL Nino winter trends wetter than normal in the southern U.S. and drier than normal for the north-central and northeast U.S.

For temperatures, the trend for El Nino is warmer in the northern U.S. and cooler than normal in the south.

For southern Colorado, the influences of La Nina and El Nino can be subtle. The strongest influence we typically see during El Nino is a colder winter. The impacts on snow are much more hit or miss, but we can trend wetter than normal during El Nino.
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