Search

What To Expect From a La Nina Spring

La Niña has been floating around the Pacific ocean for the last two years, and climatologists say we could be in for a rare three-peat of La Niña this Spring.

Graphic of east coast of the US with heat map indicators

La Niña is when cooler than average waters in the Pacific ocean occur near the equator. Its presence impacts not only weather in the United States but globally.


In Virginia, a La Niña historically correlates to warmer than average temperatures. The Commonwealth has already experienced a warmer than average start to the Spring, and it shows no sign of shifting as we head into April. So, no fear of a 2" snow like the one that occurred in Virginia in early April 1990 (thanks to La Nina and global warming).



Drought map of eastern US showing rain fall deficits predicted for Spring 2022

As far as rain is concerned, La Niña patterns tend to lean toward drier than average weather in the Spring.


Suppose La Niña continues into the summer as it did last year. In that case, we will likely see more hurricanes than average. La Niña typically reduces the wind shear that prevents tropical storm development. So, less of it means a better chance for hurricanes.


If we're lucky, Virginia will not see any catastrophic storms again this year because of a high-pressure system in the upper atmosphere that steered the storms towards the Gulf Coast.


According to the Climate Prediction Center, there is a 54% chance that La Niña continues into the summer. It would be rare to have La Niña for three years in a row. It has only happened twice since climate pattern tracking began in 1950.


The European weather model (which is often more accurate than the NOAA in weather forecasting) predicts a transition from La Nina to a neutral phase by Summer, with an El Nino likely to emerge in the Fall. So enjoy the warm and sunny Spring temperatures.


 

And in case you are wondering, here are the hurricane and tropical/subtropical storm names for 2022.


 

Sources: WWBT, NOAA, Almanac.com, severeweather.eu