La Niña May Cause Droughts on West Coast, Feet of Snow on East Coast

by Jennifer Shea
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

La Niña is back, and it’s bringing drought to California even as it ushers in several extra feet of snowfall on the East Coast.

The Pacific Ocean weather pattern crops up every few years. But this time it’s returning just a year after the prior system. That makes it a “double-dip” La Niña, the Daily Mail reports.

The tiny shift in the ocean’s temperature that La Niña brings about winds up changing the weather across the world. As the warm water moves to the western Pacific, the coast along the southwestern U.S. gets colder water, causing fewer rain clouds to form. Meanwhile, the East Coast gets warmer, wetter weather than usual. That leads to more snow.

First Signs of La Niña Due Next Week

“The snowfall forecast for New York City is, on average, 29.8 inches,” Accuweather senior meteorologist Bob Larson told the Daily Mail. “But our prediction is up to 32 inches.”

He added that the first hints of La Niña should start showing up next week. They will offer a preview of this winter’s weather.

“There is already evidence of this pattern,” Larson said. “And in a week to 10 days, we will see a storm slamming into the West Coast that will stay in northern California.”

The northwestern U.S. has a particularly rainy season coming its way. Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, on the other hand, will see dry weather that exacerbates the drought. The Ohio Valley and Northern Plains will likely see cold, rainy weather.

System Could Last Through February 2022

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts La Niña will remain in effect until February of next year.

In fact, La Niña is likely to be at its fullest force after January. The northern East Coast could be in for some major snow storms, while the mid-Atlantic region may see milder winter weather.

“Our scientists have been tracking the potential development of a La Niña since this summer, and it was a factor in the above-normal hurricane season forecast, which we have seen unfold,” NOAA Climate Prediction Center deputy director Mike Halpert said in a statement. “La Niña also influences weather across the country during the winter, and it will influence our upcoming temperature and precipitation outlooks.”

Last year, La Niña kicked in around August. It lasted through April of this year.