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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 02/ 7/2008

El Niño Update: La Niña Strengthens

By Steve Scolnik

Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature deviations from average, courtesy the Climate Prediction Center. Click on image to enlarge.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center released the latest monthly El Niño update today. If you're happy with the winter so far, then to the extent it's been influenced by sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the equatorial Pacific, you can expect more of the same.

El Niño is the phenomenon in which warmer-than-average SSTs along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean impact weather patterns around the world. El Niño's counterpart, La Niña (cooler-than-average SSTs), also affects weather worldwide, often in opposite fashion. The latest data indicate that La Niña conditions have strengthened through the end of January. In some parts of the equatorial Pacific, temperatures were as much as 2°C below average. Below the surface, temperatures in the upper 300 meters cooled to as much as 5°C below average.

These temperature patterns and their associated stronger-than-average wind patterns in the central Pacific are similar to those in the last strong La Niña in 1998-2000. Locally, both January and February 1999 were significantly warmer than average; they were followed by a cool March. Following a total of only 2.9" of snow through the end of February of that year, 8.7" fell in March.

Taking a wider view, expected effects of a continued La Niña include: "above-average precipitation in the Northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Below-average precipitation is expected across the South, particularly in the southeastern states," according to the Climate Prediction Center.

The next update is scheduled for March 6.

By Steve Scolnik  | February 7, 2008; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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OK, I'm officially done with wimpy winters due to La Niña. If anyone is up for moving to Vermont with me, say "aye".


Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 7, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse


but we can't just have two men in the Vermont wilderness...


Posted by: Period | February 7, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

As I stated earlier today, the CPC spaghetti ensemble suggests a neutral signal by fall. That could be an early indication of potential next winter.

The 18z GFS is still interesting for next mid-week. "Dreamland" is again quiet.

From an earlier post- VT Bob: Re. regional temps. in January. This U.S.average is as stated. The U.S. average was colder than normal for January. We all know that we were warmer than normal in this region. Many are very happy with this anomaly because of the relief on home heating costs. We may not be so lucky next winter.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 7, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget about March. There may still be a chance for some significant snowfall.

Posted by: Sponge | February 7, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

My early outlook 4 next winter, at this point, is average temps & snow. Unfortunately I'm expecting an extremely hot & very dry summer.

Posted by: VaTechBob. | February 7, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

The 12z ECMWF paints a significant Winter Storm for us at 132 hrs.(Wed. 2-13) As earlier stated, the GFS has looked interesting at mid-week for several runs.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 7, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

You guys are really reaching for straws if you think you can predict what is going to happen next winter when we are barely half-way through this one.

Posted by: steve takoma park md | February 7, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I predict that sometime over the next 10 years we will have a snowstorm that produces over 7 inches of snow. The 1 trillion hour GFS is looking very interesting at this point - henry M. at Accuweather has already started the hype for this "Big Daddy" of a storm.

We have several thousands of model runs but I must say I am excited! Augusta Jim - you are in the bulls eye of this one. ;)

Posted by: greg | February 7, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Actually we r 77% of the way thru winter, & I can make predictions because I'm good at it.

Posted by: VaTechBob. | February 7, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

We had a pretty big snowstorm around Feb 20-something in 2003. We also had a large snowstorm in mid-March in the early 1990s (I was but a wee lad at the time). Therefore, we shouldn't count ourselves out yet!

And lest we forget the Blizzard of 2006:

Posted by: jtf | February 7, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I am not ready to say, wax the snowboards and shovels. Many things can change during the next 5 days.

BUT.....During the past 12 hrs. Uncertainty has increased, forecast confidence level has decreased, and model guidance from several sources has trended toward wintry precip. potential for the middle of next week.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 7, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

greg, LOL -- Margusity's something, isn't he? I read his daily blog only to see what heights (or depths) of hyperbole he can reach to out-do his previous postings. His near-daily cries of "Big Daddy due in 2 weeks!" are like the sad little shepherd boy repeatedly yelling "Wolf!" Margusity's favorite new over-the-top description: "dam-breaking winds" Saw that one several times this week...

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | February 7, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

you all crack me up, nice banter!

Posted by: Curtis | February 7, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

What happened to negative NAO earlier this winter?

Posted by: Kalorama Park | February 7, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, on January 28, 2072, we're gonna get three feet of snow!!


Posted by: WSL | February 8, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

For those wondering, the trillion-hour GFS would be predicting weather for March 26, in the year 114,079,124 A.D.

Posted by: Dave | February 8, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

As I've continually been saying: why can't we get a neutral "La Nada" winter for a change??? When was our last "La Nada" winter and how much snow did we have that year? I'm willing to bet 30 inches or more for the season at DCA; perhaps 45 to 60+ inches at IAD!

March promises us something, but by then it's harder to get the snow to stick due to the higher solar angle.

Posted by: El Bombo | February 8, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Aye! To Vermont! And what IS going on with the NAO and how it relates to the La Nina now?

Posted by: missy | February 8, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"You guys are really reaching for straws if you think you can predict what is going to happen next winter when we are barely half-way through this one.

Posted by: steve takoma park md | February 7, 2008 09:09 PM"

See today's Dilbert.

Posted by: TQ | February 8, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"And lest we forget the Blizzard of 2006:"

The funny thing about that storm wasn't a blizzard.

A not a snow storm with heavy accumulations. A blizzard is a *wind storm* with visibilities reduced severely by snow _or_ blowing snow.

Posted by: TQ | February 8, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Aye! I'm packing up for Vermont!

Or to Syracuse, NY where the average snowfall is 116.9 inches.

Posted by: Snowflake Sista | February 8, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

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