Tuesday, March 6, 2007

La Nina may arrive soon, NOAA says

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that La Nina conditions may be developing the Pacific. The changing conditions are depicted In the image at left, in which cooler ocean surface temperatures are in blue and warmer in yellow and orange. During La Nina conditions, the east-central equatorial Pacific becomes cooler than normal, influencing rainfall and temperature patterns around the world.

A La Nina sometimes follows on the heels of an El Nino. According to NOAA it tends to be associated with a greater-than-normal number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, but fewer hurricanes in the eastern Pacific. La Nina conditions tend to develop between March and June and then reach peak intensity from December to February. NOAA says a lengthy La Nina between 1998 and 2001 contributed to serious drought in the West.

So after this year's epic snow in parts of Colorado, we may see a return to the dry conditions that have seemed ever more common in recent years.

-- Tom Yulsman

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