What it means for the US – AccuWeather.com/en/
El Niño has been shaping the weather across North America all winter, but the tides are shifting, and a major shift is on the horizon.
On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a La Niña watch, stating that it could replace El Niño before the end of summer. This could have implications for the impending Atlantic hurricane season and beyond.
Back in December, AccuWeather’s team of long-term forecasters began seeing signs that La Niña might return during the second half of 2024.
“The AccuWeather Long-Range team expects a rapid weakening of El Niño this spring,” said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather’s long-range forecaster. “From our research and climatology, La Niña could develop in late summer or early fall in 2024.”
What are El Niño and La Niña phenomena?
Both phenomena are associated with the Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii, near the equator. When waters in this region of the ocean are at least 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit above long-term averages for at least three consecutive months, it results in an El Niño phenomenon. When water cools to at least 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit below historical averages, La Niña is declared.
While this may seem like a small change in temperature, it can cause major changes in weather patterns around the world.
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What does the “La Nina” phenomenon mean for the weather in the United States?
The timing of the arrival of the La Niña phenomenon may coincide with the peak of the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.
“A return to La Niña conditions quickly during the summer could lead to an active tropical season,” Pastelok said. However, he added that if development is slower, the tropics may not be quite as active during the 2024 hurricane season.
If the La Niña phenomenon comes to fruition, it could also have a major impact on weather forecasts in the United States next winter. This generally results in a dry, mild winter in the south, a colder winter in the northeast and frequent storms in the northwest, although it is still too early to say what next winter will bring.
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