SPOKANE, Wash.— Scientists anticipated it most of the summer, and now it’s officially official. La Niña has developed in the East Pacific Ocean. That means there’s a higher chance the Inland Northwest could have a colder and snowier winter.
La Niña is part of ENSO, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. It’s a cycle of warming and cooling ocean temperatures in the East Pacific that impact weather patterns worldwide when the cycle changes. The impacts of ENSO on the United States in wintertime are well understood. While not every La Niña winter is colder or snowier than average in our area (2020-21 for example), an average La Niña winter over the last 70 years has dropped 20 percent more snowfall compared to years without La Niña.
4 News Now also analyzed the snowfall data when two La Niña winters happened back-to-back. In six out of ten cases, the second winter was snowier than the first. Seven out of the ten were colder than the first winter too.
RELATED: Another La Niña winter likely in the Northwest
One region that may not welcome La Niña however are our neighbors in California and the Southwest. While La Niña is often a wetter pattern in the Northwest, it’s exactly the opposite further south. The Southwest and California are suffering through yet another historic drought. That drought could expand further east into Texas and become more severe in Arizona and New Mexico if La Niña becomes a dominant force these next few months.
RELATED: First-ever water cuts declared for Colorado River in historic drought
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