La Niña is here for the winter

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 9, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- We started off the winter months of 2016-17 in the Big Bend and South Georgia with warm and relatively wet conditions. We may start this one at least on the dry side.

That's because La Niña is officially here, NOAA announced Thursday. Like, Facebook official.

It's the second winter in a row where an La Niña pattern is set to take hold, according to NOAA. After January 2017, the pattern moved to more of a "neutral" phase.

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for about a 65- to 75-percent chance of a La Niña pattern this winter.

So, what is La Niña? It's pretty much the opposite of El Niño - the atmospheric-oceanic connection where where the Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures off the South American coast are above normal. This time, with La Niña, the sea surface temps are below normal because of the strengthening of the trade winds, which allow for more upwelling along the South American coast.

This change in the trade winds and water temps alters the patterns for a given season. For the Southeast U.S., this means drier than normal conditions.

The above Tweet displays the precipitation departures from normal from previous La Niña events. The data, from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, show lower-than-normal rainfall amounts during those La Niña winters.

As for temperatures, La Niña events within the last 30 years were factored into determining departures from normal. It seems that the eastern U.S. - including our area - has dealt with above average temperatures. It could be another warm winter, like most of last winter.

It doesn't necessarily mean that we will not see any cooler temperatures or rainfall, but it just means that rain and cold weather will be less likely overall.

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