Looming La Nina Could Mean Weather Changes Ahead

El Nino has officially ended, but a La Nina event could soon follow, bringing with it changes for summer and fall weather this year, forecasters warned.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that El Nino dissipated over the past month and conditions have returned to normal. 

In the coming months, however, there is a 75 percent chance La Nina could develop. 

Models differ over when the La Nina event might begin, with some indicating it could arrive by summer in the Northern Hemisphere, others saying it might take until fall and few forecasting it may not arrive at all.

If La Nina develops, it could mean changes in the weather for North America, though those changes will depend heavily on the strength of the weather event.

La Nina is the opposite of El Nino and represents periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the equatorial east and central Pacific Ocean.

According to the NOAA, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest during La Nina.

If a La Nina event is strong enough, it could also mean above-average precipitation and cooler temperatures in the northern Midwest, which by winter could mean more snow. 

It’s not uncommon for La Nina conditions to follow an El Nino event. Both have the potential to last anywhere from nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events can last for years. 

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, after three relatively slow years. But they also said climate conditions that influence storm development are making it difficult to predict how many hurricanes and tropical storms will arise over the next six months. 

El Nino tends to reduce hurricane activity in the Atlantic, while La Nina tends to increase it.

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