By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – NOAA released their monthly update on La Niña this week and it shows an 85 to 95 percent chance that it will continue through the Northern Hemisphere’s winter.

La Niña is a cooling of the waters in the equatorial part of the eastern Pacific Ocean. That cooling causes atmospheric wind patterns in that part of the world to shift and that shift can actually influence weather patterns worldwide.

(credit: NOAA)

A typical La Niña winter weather pattern for the United States is shown in the graphic above. So far this season we’re seeing some similarities to a normal pattern. For instance it’s been dry and warm in Colorado.

But there are also a lot of differences, such as the abnormal cold that we’ve seen in the southeast states.

In Colorado we tend to see a northwest flow dominate the jet stream pattern during a La Niña winter, which brings more snow to the northern mountains than the southern ranges.

That’s almost exactly what we’ve seen so far this season.

And while that may cause some to panic, it’s important to remember that we’ve seen dry winters followed by extremely wet springs.

Our fingers are crossed that we will see a few soggy winter storms that will build up our mountain snowpack between now and April. But we could also use a few wet storms in Denver, on the eastern plains and on Colorado’s western slope where severe drought conditions continue to expand.

Meteorologist Chris Spears travels weekly in the CBS4 Mobile Weather Lab reporting about Colorado’s weather and climate. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.


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