Lincoln (Neb.) - Nov. 8, 1999 - Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's High Plains Climate Center expect the La Niņa which began last year to continue through this coming winter. That means it could be a winter of extremes.
NU Research Climatologist Ken Dewey examined the climate records for southeast Nebraska to see how the climate fared during the past 14 La Niņas.
14 La Niņa History
Temperature Snowfall December below normal above normal below normal January above normal can't determine above normal February above normal can't determine below normal Winter above normal can't determine above normal
"Based on the past La Niņas, it appears a warmer than normal December would be expected and it is a toss-up for the rest of winter; it could go either way, warmer or colder than normal," Dewey said. "After a drier than normal December it appears that the rest of winter has the greatest chance of being above normal in precipitation."
"Snowfall has the greatest likelihood of being below normal in both December and February with only January showing signs of being above normal. January La Niņas have a tendency to be quite snowy and as a result even with below normal snowfall in December and February, La Niņa winters average snowier than normal."
These outlooks are not as exact as daily weather forecasts as they refer only to the general pattern of being above or below normal, Dewey said. Outlooks don't take into account the large regional differences that can occur in temperature and especially in precipitation from individual storms.
"It is best to use these outlooks as a 'heads up' first approximation of what the future weather patterns might be like and recognize that the climate system, with its built- in variability, is always subject to dramatic changes and reversals in pattern," Dewey said.
A La Niņa is the occurrence of unusually cold ocean currents off the west coast of South America. This is the opposite of the El Niņo, which is unusually warm ocean currents off South America.
Dewey says either event can have profound impact on the weather in North America. La Niņa conditions have persisted since the summer of 1998 and show no signs of decreasing.
Additional information about the weather and climate of
Nebraska can be found at the High Plains Climate Center
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