You’ll be hearing a lot about La Niña in the months ahead if the climate pattern forms (federal scientists expect it will sometime this summer).

It currently has a 60% chance of occurring, and experts say it would have an impact on the Atlantic hurricane season and the nation’s weather next winter.

The expected La Niña will replace what has been an historically strong El Niño, forecasters said. “There is a historical tendency for La Niña to follow strong El Niño events,” the Climate Prediction Center said in a recent forecast.

What is La Niña?

La Niña is a natural climate pattern marked by cooler-than-average seawater in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. When the water cools to at least 0.9 of a degree Fahrenheit below average for three straight months, La Niña is declared.

“While this may sound like a small change in temperature, it can cause significant changes in the weather patterns around the globe,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada.

More:Early forecast says summer 2024 is set to be unusually hot across most of USA

It is one of the main drivers of weather in the United States, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring. It’s the opposite to the more well-known El Niño, which occurs when Pacific Ocean water is at least 0.9 degree warmer than average for three months. 

The most recent El Niño peaked in December and will go down as one of the five strongest in history, the World Meteorological Organization said.

Can La Niña worsen the Atlantic hurricane season?

Yes, according to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña can contribute to an increase in Atlantic hurricane activity by weakening the wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Basin, which allows storms to develop and intensify. 

It’s one of the reasons forecasters have predicted a “hyperactive” hurricane season in the Atlantic basin this year, with one forecast expecting as many as 33 named storms. An average year sees 14.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *