The NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has issued a “La Nina Watch,” which means conditions are favorable for La Nina to develop within the next six months.
So what does that mean in everyday terms?
According to the CPC, a La Nina occurs when one-month negative sea surface temperature anomalies drop to -0.5 degrees Celsius (or less) within a portion of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that is located at 5oN-5oS, 120oW-170oW.
The abnormally cool ocean waters can impact the atmosphere immediately above it. As a result, the weather changes not just in that location, but even a hemisphere away; these connections that occur far away are known as teleconnections.
In the Southeast, La Nina conditions contribute to a warmer and drier winter. However, just because a La Nina sets up does not mean that the entire season would be observing that trend. In January 2011 (a La Nina winter), a snowstorm moved through Alabama and Georgia that dropped 5-10 inches of snow.