We are looking at back-to-back La Niña winters, and while forecasters tried to keep us optimistic about the chances of average rainfall last winter, we all know how that turned out. So we should brace ourselves for another year of this drought.
Forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center issued an update Thursday giving a 60% chance that another La Niña pattern will form — and this same forecast was given last year, only to be updated the second week of September to say, "Yep, La Niña is here."
La Niña temperature patterns, in which cooler temperatures gather along the surface of the Pacific, have a mixed bag of effects on the West Coast, with the tendency to make for drier than average winters in Southern California, and wetter than average years for the Pacific Northwest. This past winter, there was hope early on that the drier than average November and December here in Northern California would give way to to wetter winter and spring months, but that didn't happen, and we had one of the driest winters on record, making our current drought that much worse.
The drought in the American West is one issue that a second La Niña winter could exacerbate. As CNN reports, this could also spell disaster for the East Coast hurricane season, because La Niña patterns tend to inhibit wind shear — and the only thing that ends a hurricane season is increased wind shear. Last year's extreme hurricane season, in which they got to the end of the alphabet with named storms and had to start using Greek alphabet letters for names — something that the World Meteorological Association decided this year it would stop doing because it got confusing. (If we get up to more than 21 named storms this season, they will revert to a supplemental list of names that uses less common names and the letters X, Y, and Z.)
The hurricane season in the Atlantic is already more active than usual, with six named storms already — including Fred, which is expected to make landfall as a tropical storm in Florida on Saturday. But there's already another tropical depression forming behind it, which forecasters say will be Tropical Storm Grace by Saturday. Storm watches have already been issued for Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Sint Eustatius.
As CNN notes, there typically are not six named storms until around September 8, which is when the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak. So the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast could be in for a very busy month or two, storm-wise, starting now.
We should know better in a few weeks if this really will be a La Niña year or not.