(NEXSTAR) – La Niña is set to last longer than previously anticipated, according to a new outlook by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
The outlook, released Thursday, said the climate pattern is favored to continue through the summer. The Climate Prediction Center said there’s a 53% chance it lasts through August 2022.
That’s a change from the Center’s last prediction, which expected the Northern Hemisphere to shift into an “ENSO-neutral” pattern (meaning neither La Niña nor El Niño conditions) sometime between May and July.
“This month, the forecaster consensus favors a slower decay of La Niña,” the outlook said, based on observed conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere, “which contributed to cooler near-term forecasts from several state-of-the-art climate models.”
Why does La Niña matter? It affects the type of weather we see across the United States. La Niña typically brings drier conditions to the southern half of the country and more rain and snow to pockets of the northern half.
Between March and May, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting warmer-than-average temperatures in the southwest, southeast and Gulf States. The Pacific Northwest may see a cooler spring, according to NOAA.
The precipitation outlook for the next three months looks consistent with a La Niña pattern. Dry weather is expected to dominate the southern half of the country, especially the drought-plagued southwestern states, while more rain is expected in the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio River Valley.
This year’s La Niña has been moderate in strength, NOAA meteorologists said in a recent news briefing.