La Niña has returned: What does this mean for Central Illinois?

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Model data from earlier this spring hinted at a return to La Niña by the fall. It’s called a “Double Dip” event.

It’s the same phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation experienced last winter.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation is a change in sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific, from warm to cold or vice-versa, and that impacts climate conditions across the globe.

La Niña is the colder sea surface phase.

“So, if we have cold water or warm water, the location of those will feed energy or remove energy from the atmosphere, and that affects the flow of the jet stream,” said Illinois State Climatologist Dr. Trent Ford.

The jet stream shift can impact how winters could play out in North America and in places around the Ohio River Valley, like Illinois.

“La Niña winters in December, and to a lesser extent January, tend to be more mild. Where we see our quintessential Illinois winter weather is the cold and some of the snow later in the season into January and February,” said Ford.

However, La Niña or El Niño phases aren’t the only factors in what to expect during the winter.

“There is not a single La Niña winter that is like another La Niña winter. And the reason is because there’s other factors at play. There’s things going on in the Atlantic Ocean that factor in. There are things in the Arctic, and the stratosphere, like the stratosphere Polar Vortex we hear about a lot,” said Ford.

Now, the phase change won’t just impact areas near the Ohio River Valley.

This pattern change is sometimes associated with colder winters in the Northern Plains and drier weather in the southeast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will give its 2021-2022 Winter Outlook this upcoming Thursday.

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