‘Tis the season for La Niña ladies and gents, and this year she is throwing a serious tantrum, actually since Summer 2010…on both coasts. Demolishing precipitation records across the states (and around the world for that matter) wreaking pure havoc. This precious “little girl” has left a trail of destruction only Mother Nature could love!
Simply put, the La Niña phenomenon occurs when temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are colder than normal. This in turn affects the atmosphere above as the Trade Winds increase inducing upwelling along the east coasts of the Pacific Ocean (west coasts of actual landmasses). According to NOAA: “La Niña often features drier than normal conditions in the Southwest in late summer through the subsequent winter. Drier than normal conditions also typically occur in the Central Plains in the fall and in the Southeast in the winter. In contrast, the Pacific Northwest is more likely to be wetter than normal in the late fall and early winter with the presence of a well-established La Niña. Additionally, on average La Niña winters are warmer than normal in the Southeast and colder than normal in the Northwest.” But it would seem that La Niña had some climatological surprises up her sleeve and pretty much pounded the entire country with “beaucoup de pluie et neige” or as we Americans would say, a lot of friggin’ rain and snow! No worries though, this feisty little diva can’t stick around forever. Her average reign of terror tends to last for a mere 9-12 months, and since her climatological antithesis El Niño had his way with us last year, my theory is that we could have an average 2011 Winter season. Cheers to that!
-2010 images of La Niña
Infrared Satellite Image of La Niña *colder than normal ocean water denoted in deep blues and purples
IR Image (detects temperatures)-Current data is showing that THIS La Niña could be the worse in recent history. First the rare full moon this past December…now this!
Here’s a quick look at the total amount of precipitation recorded, in 2010, in some of the nation’s busiest cities.
Atlanta: 48.14″ of rain, 5.7″ of snow (equivalent to .57″ of liquid precipitation with a 1-10 ratio and .81″ with a 1 to 7 ratio)
Chicago: 37.61″ of rain, 49.6″ of snow (equivalent to 4.96″ of liquid precipitation with a 1-10 ratio and 7.09 with a *1 to 7 ratio)
Los Angeles: 20.05″ of rain with December receiving a record 8.83 ” of rain in December alone.
Minneapolis:32.9″of rain, 43.4 (equivalent to 4.34″ of liquid precipitation with a 1-10 ratio and 6.2″ with a 1 to 7 ratio)
New York City: 40.8″ of rain, 44.8″ of snow (equivalent to 4.48″ of liquid precipitation with a 1-10 ratio and 6.4 with a *1 to 7 ratio)
San Francisco: 24.15″ of rain
Seattle: 46.99″ of rain, 3″ of snow (equivalent to .3″ of liquid precipitation with a 1-10 ratio and .43 with a *1 to 7 ratio
*A 1 to 7 ratio is used for “wetter” snow
Information provided by local offices of The National Weather Service