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Weather Wise

published: March 6th 2020
by: Brian Bledsoe

I haven’t had to talk much about La Niña during the past few years. In fact, we haven’t had much problem with it for quite some time. However, there are a few signs that show the Pacific cooling down a bit, and that is always something that piques my interest. Just as a refresher, La Niña is the abnormal cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A stout La Niña may look something like this:

    Notice all of the “blue and green” scattered across the Pacific between South America and Indonesia. Historically, a La Niña episode can produce this generalized weather across the country.

    Notice how the southern tier of states is usually drier than average. Well, the current sea surface temperatures do not reflect a La Niña episode right now.

    If anything, neutral to a slight Modoki El Niño is happening. But since the fall, the Pacific has been cooling down. The map below shows that change…

    This is especially true in the Northern Pacific Ocean. If this type of cooling continues across the Central/Northern Pacific Ocean, it could set the stage for La Niña development later this year. While this is far from certain, some of the latest computer model runs have suggested that is something worth looking at.   The graph below shows various computer model ENSO forecasts. 

    You can see that pretty much all of the models take things back toward “zero” or neutral by the summer. Some of the models continue to go “below zero” into La Niña territory by late summer and fall. Again, La Niña is far from a certainty at this point, but it is certainly something I am watching very closely. As many of you may know, La Niña episodes usually portend significant drought potential across Texas and much of the Southern Plains and Gulf Coast region. Stay tuned.

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