MTPR

Say Goodbye To El Niño And Hello To La Niña

May 13, 2016

Something’s brewing in the Pacific Ocean that could significantly affect Montana later this year. Edward O’Brien explains:

Goodbye, El Niño. It was nice knowing you. Hello, La Niña. Here’s hoping you bring us lots of good snow next winter. The National Weather Service says sea surface temperatures are now cooling in the equatorial Pacific. Missoula meteorologist Travis Booth:

Regional impacts of La Niña.
Credit NOAA/National Weather Service

"With a La Niña, typically for this part of the world – the Northern Rockies – in a real general sense, we would experience for the wintertime season, cooler than normal temperatures and wetter than normal precipitation."

There’s no way to pin any specifics to that forecast at this point, but experts say there’s a 75 percent chance of a La Niña next fall and winter.

The La Niña phenomenon is the opposite of El Niño, which is caused by the warming of ocean waters.

One of the most powerful El Niños in recent memory is now breaking down in the Pacific. It was expected to bring warmer and drier conditions to Montana last winter. It was generally warmer than normal, but we lucked-out when it came to precipitation.

"Generally, it was near normal throughout most of the winter time," says Booth.

Recent warm, sunny days have chipped away at the remaining mountain snowpack.

Meteorologists are calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures in the northern Rockies this summer. There’s no clear indication yet if it will be any wetter or drier than normal.