A La Niña that could arrive as soon as June might close the door on a powerful El Niño, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
This latest El Niño, which has dumped record rainfall on Southern California and the state’s Central Coast this month, is believed to be the fifth-strongest El Niño on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week.
“The February ENSO Outlook officially announces that we are in a La Niña Watch, even while, at the current moment, the Pacific Ocean remains in an El Niño, ” writes Tom Di Liberto on climate.gov’s ENSO blog.
“The outlook gives a 79% chance that El Niño will transition to ENSO-Neutral by the April–June period, and then a 55% chance the Pacific transitions into La Niña in June–August.”
The El Niño-La Niña climate pattern can influence weather worldwide, including California, although its influences and the weather it produces can vary.
In California, El Niño is associated with wetter winters while La Niña often produces drier conditions.
Studies of El Niño and La Niña Patterns Help Farmers, Water Managers
Explains climate.gov: “Years of monitoring and studying El Niño and La Niña events have helped scientists better understand how these seesawing warm and cool cycles in the tropical Pacific typically influence climate and weather patterns throughout the United States. This information can be particularly useful to farmers and water managers.
“El Niño and La Niña are particularly influential in the winter. These maps show the difference from average December-February temperature and precipitation averaged over 22 El Niño and 19 La Niña episodes that have occurred in the past 60 years.”
A long La Niña from 2020 to 2023 helped shape California’s most recent drought, which led to water restrictions and choked off irrigation water for farmers and drinking water for some San Joaquin Valley rural communities.
Watch: El Niño and La Niña Explained