Zooming Around With Zoe: The equator and the effects from La Nina

Zooming Around With Zoe

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — When it comes to winter, many of you have heard of El Nino and La Nina. This year, we are seeing La Nina conditions – but what exactly does that mean? Let’s zoom to the equator. 

It all revolves around the Pacific Ocean. Normally, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America and bringing it towards Asia. By doing so, cold water from deep in the ocean must replace the warm water near the coast.  

But, during La Nina events, trade winds become stronger than normal, which pushes more warm water towards Asia. In turn, even more cold water gets dragged to the ocean surface near South America. 

This extra cool water in the Pacific pushes the jet stream, if you remember from last week that’s what controls our winter weather.

Zooming Around with Zoe: Explaining the polar jet stream

In the US, La Nina typically brings cooler and wetter conditions to the north, and warmer and drier conditions to the south. More dry air throughout the winter is not necessarily a good thing as the ongoing drought is still a major issue across the country. 

Zooming Around With Zoe | WNCT

For the second year in a row, La Nina conditions have taken hold. In November, NOAA’s climate prediction center noted that sea surface temperatures in the eastern Tropical Pacific were anywhere from one to over two degrees F below normal – an indication of a fairly strong La Nina event taking place. 

So now you know that Eastern North Carolina should expect a drier and warmer winter than average, all due to La Nina.

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