For three years straight, waters in the equatorial Pacific have been experiencing record cold temperatures. Climatologists predict a 90% chance of La Nina type winter from November through January 2023!
The name El Niño refers to warmer than normal sea temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific ocean west of Peru and Ecuador. It is part of a cycle of changing ocean temperatures known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation, abbreviated ENSO. The cold period of this cycle is know as La Niña. The length of the warm El Niño phase and the cold La Niña may last from 8 months to 2 years. Currently we are in our third year.
To put it in a way most everybody can understand because the Pacific waters are cooler than usual and simultaneously the Atlantic waters are much higher than usual that combination creates a perfect opportunity for moisture rich atmosphere from the Atlantic to meet cool air currents from the Pacific jet stream and create really terrible situations weather wise eg hurricanes, snow storms etc...
La Niña and her brother El Niño are amplified by the effects of climate change, and, in turn, worsen climate change itself. Like many siblings, the two weather patterns are opposites in almost every way La Niña causes water in the eastern Pacific to be colder than usual. An example of the damage this can cause would be the three hours of extremely heavy rain on Feb. 15,which led to 300 land slides, and mudslides that caused mass destruction in Petrópolis, a city built on a hillside like many low-income neighborhoods in Brazil. Another case where we see that being poor exacerbates the effects of climate change.
La Nina refers to the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. Typically, La Nina events occur every 3 to 5 years or so, but now we are in our third year in a row of having a La Nina event and it may be that this will be our future if nothing is done to curtail climate change. La Niña (translated from Spanish as "little girl") is not a storm, but a climate pattern that can impact weather around the world. The Boston and greater New England areas are expected to feel its effects on temperature and precipitation, which could in turn have consequences for things such as winter storms, blizzards and coastal flooding. This is consistent with typical La Niña conditions during winter months, we can expect below-normal temperatures along portions of the New England coastal regions while much of the South will likely experience above-normal temperatures. The Southwest will remain a region of concern as below-normal precipitation or drought conditions will continue in most areas.
Boston is well known for changeable weather so make sure to keep track of it! In a heartbeat you could be in the midst of a blizzard going on, even though you just stepped out for a quiet stroll watching the foliage along the Charles. Be prepared by installing a weather app on your phone and or laptop. The Old John Hancock Building, now more commonly known as the Berkeley Building, has a weather beacon which can be seen at its summit. In fact Boston residents have a poem about the meaning of the colors!
Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead
So keep a watchful eye out for that flashing red!