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When, Oh When, Will La Niña End?

February 7, 2011

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La Niña is still strong and still here. Expect more cold stormy blizzards. Ugh! When will winter finally give us a break?

A typical La Niña winter.
Click to enlarge.

Source: Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS


Part of the problems we’ve had is that this winter had two huge weather patterns tag-teaming us—the La Niña and the Arctic Oscillation (AO). In early winter, the AO went negative. The winds around the Arctic weakened and let the cold polar air mass hit Southern California (remember the Pineapple Express floods?) and Florida. Now it’s mid-winter and La Niña rules the weather. Thanks to the Pacific weather pattern, even more cold air visited the states, chilling the Super Bowl.

To put it in football terms, our team just got slammed by two enormous tackles. We didn’t have a chance!

So when will these winter storms finally get the hint and go away?

The Arctic Oscillation is basically a wild card. Fortunately, our understanding of La Nina is better. Scientists have been studying the global impact of the Pacific phenomenon for over a century. Here in the US it normally means cooler temperatures in the Northwest all winter long. In the Midwest and Eastern states, the La Niña usually shapes a warm early winter, a cold mid-winter and a warm late winter and spring. In strong events, like this one, the mid-winter also carries storms down to Dixie.

Since countries all over the world are affected by the La Niña, nations all over the world have created models predicting its behavior. The result is—a mess.

International computer models for how long this La Niña will last are (literally) all over the chart. Click to enlarge.

Source: NOAA and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

Basically, almost all of the models agree the miserable phenomenon peaked. It’s as bad as it is going to get. They agree it will last into spring. Most think it will fade before the summer – except for models in the US, Great Britain, Korea and Japan.

If the models are right, the winter storms will ease up in the last weeks of February and most of the nation will enjoy a warm spring. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Going back to football terms (O.K.—I partied through the Super Bowl) – we are almost to the goal line! We have almost made it through this cold and stormy winter to a nice springtime. Except—watch out for that blasted Arctic Oscillation. It’s a wild card!

The temperatures here got down to -22°F and I’m 300 miles north of the Mexican border! Tell us about what winter is doing in your area. (If you are in one of the few warm parts of the nation—here’s your place to brag.

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, blogger, writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac, and editor of The Browning Newsletter, has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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Comments

Rainy in Seattle!

By seattlelisa

Interesting article, nice to know we are almost to the "goal line." I just spent the past week in the sunny Caribbean and was loving the sunshine!

Weather in Texas

By Janet Menn

I live in the Hill Country of Texas and haven't seen weather like this for many years. Our high today was 27 degrees and our low tonight will be 14. That's not unusual for the northern states, but it's supposed to be warm here in the south. Brrrrrr!!!!

Weather in Texas

By Evelyn Browning...

Best wishes for your electricity. These cold spells are really rough on the Texas power grid.

Still snowing in mid-Missouri

By Marsha Knatcal

It's snowing again today; expecting another 3 inches. We got blasted last week with the near record snow fall of 18.3 inches.

They said we got 20 inches in 1995. That was the year I attempted to retrieve the shovel from our shed and ended up with 5 stitches to my head after bumping it on the overhang of the shed's roof!

We're expecting a balmy 50 degrees this weekend and into next week. Despite the mounds of snow still visible, I'm sure the car washes will be packed this weekend. I'll be in line, too, anxious to get the grime off my trusty SUV!

Happy Spring everyone!

snow in chicago

By Andy Fox

Lots of snow in Chicago. I hope the break is coming soon. Sounds like another one of those arctic blasts is headed our way.

Greetings from NH

By Catherine Boeckmann

I can't believe it's -22 degrees in New Mexico. It was warm and slushy up here in New Hampshire yesterday--in the opposite corner of the country--and usually the cold corner! One more "big mama" storm coming. It's really all over the place with amazing swings. But excited to hear about a warm spring. Thanks for these great blogs.

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