La Nina ‘triple dip’ may affect global weather patterns, but New York will be spared: experts

A climate phenomenon that can bring extreme weather worldwide is in its rare third year — but it’s not predicted to affect New York.

La Nina, Spanish for “the girl,” is an oceanic and atmospheric pattern that is the colder counterpart to the better-known El Niño.

The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday that colder ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific will continue for a third year in a row in a stunning “triple dip.”

“Occasionally, like now, it can happen for two or a few years in a row, and that’s what’s happening now with La Nina,” Accuweather senior meteorologist Bob Larson told the Daily News. “There’s really no direct or significant correlation to New York State or New York City.”

Weather experts are looking into this weather event.

What is La Nina?

Both El Nino and La Nina are Pacific Ocean climate patterns that affect weather around the world, NOAA’s National Oceanic Administration explained. When neither end is at play, the trade winds blow west along the equator and pull warm water from South America and push it toward Asia. Cold water rises to replace the warm water that leaves, NOAA said. This is part of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle.

El Nino and La Nina occur about every two to seven years, but not regularly.

While the cooling trend in the equatorial Pacific known as La Nina is common, an unprecedented “triple dip” was notable for being the first this century, the World Meteorological Organization said Wednesday.

What is he doing?

When the trade winds strengthen during a La Nina event, the jet stream is pushed northward, leading to extreme weather conditions such as drought in some areas and heavy rain and flooding elsewhere. It can also create an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, Larson said.

Where does he do it?

La Nina contributes to some extreme weather in various parts of the world, for example, allowing more rain to fall in Australia and drying out East Africa, as explained by The Verge.

In the US, “its biggest impact is in the southern US – Southern California, Texas and east to Florida,” Larson told The News. These areas become unusually dry and often hot. The Pacific Northwest and Canada could see heavy rain and flooding, NOAA said.

La Niña often leads to a stronger-than-normal Atlantic hurricane season and less rain and more wildfires in the western United States and agricultural losses in the central U.S., but that’s not a given, Larson said, noting that this year’s hurricane season so far she hasn’t been terribly active — though there’s still time for that to change.

“This year, so far, it’s been unusually quiet,” he said, noting that two years ago, when we ran out of hurricane names and had to resort to the Greek alphabet, that may well have been La Nina’s influence. The same is true of Hurricane Ida, which pounded parts of the Northeast in August 2021.

Should New Yorkers prepare for… something?

During a La Nina year, it often tends to be warmer and drier than normal on the East Coast during the winter, Larson said, so that could contribute to a milder winter. But it’s never clear how much of this is specifically due to La Nina.

Knowing that La Nina is out there gives meteorologists a starting point for things to look out for as they make forecasts, Larson noted.

What does this mean for global warming and climate change? Should we be worried?

We should always be concerned about climate change, given its potential, if left unchecked, to render parts of the Earth uninhabitable. But as for the specific weather patterns created by La Nina, it’s not something that can be directly tied to a specific event, Larson said.

While it’s tempting to interpret cooler La Nina ocean temperatures as a sign of the tide turning on global warming, the third time isn’t the charm in this case, forecasters said.

Weather experts have warned against getting too optimistic about human-caused global warming in the face of a cooling trend, which is part of a natural back-and-forth process.

“It is extraordinary to have three consecutive years with a La Nina event,” WMO Secretary-General Petri Taalas said in a statement. “Cooling it temporarily slows the rise in global temperatures, but will not stop or reverse the long-term warming trend.”

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