SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4) – With mountain snow and freezing temperatures that spring up with early-season fall storms, it’s not uncommon to have winter on your mind in Utah.
We know we’ve battled a historic drought and we’re celebrating measurable humidity anytime here in Beehive State, and now our second year La Nina has come to fruition. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, or NOAA, made the announcement Thursday, October 14. Forecasters confirm that La Nina has grown and will extend into our second consecutive winter, as indicated by ocean and atmospheric conditions over and in the tropical Pacific.
La Nina, translated from Spanish as “little girl,” is part of the Southern Oscillation cycle of El Nino, or ENSO, and is characterized by colder-than-average sea surface temperatures near the equator, across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. Trade winds in the Pacific Ocean tilt the warmer surface waters of western South America towards Indonesia. When this happens, colder water below the surface rises near the coast of South America. The variable Pacific jet stream will generally stay further north, and the polar jet stream plunges further east. What does this mean for North America? Well, La Nina is a big driver of what is happening in our country and the world in late fall, winter and spring. This can have a huge impact on temperature and precipitation.
La Nina winters tend to be drier and warmer in the southern third of the United States and cooler in the northern United States and Canada. parts of the Midwest, Ohio / Tennessee Valleys, and the Pacific Northwest tend to see more rain and snow than average. As a result, in Utah that means southern Utah is fortunate to have a drier winter with chances of below average precipitation. The rest of the state has an equal chance of seeing wetter or drier conditions.
Last year, La Nina recorded below average rainfall, but there have been years when the top third of the state recorded above average humidity. The other most recent La Nina years in Utah include the 2008-2009, 2010-2011, and 2016-17 seasons, and during those years, while most of the valleys experienced below normal snowfall, many of our mountain ranges have seen the opposite with above normal snowfall. years of average snowfall. The Wasatch Mountains also had one of their greatest seasons in 2010-11 of the past decade, with Alta recording 553 ″ of snowfall. After the historic drought, we welcome measurable humidity to Utah. The snowpack helps fill our reservoirs.
This will be our second consecutive winter at La Nina, and while it may seem odd, it’s actually not uncommon for forecasters to call these conditions a “double dip”. You may remember, La Nina developed for winter 2020-2021 and lasted until April when ENO-neutral conditions returned. On October 21, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center will release its temperature and precipitation forecast for the winter. Stay tuned for more on the expected models.
ABC4Utah’s precise weather team pays close attention to atmospheric and oceanic trends when forecasting the condition, so stay with us for the most accurate Utah forecast.