weather photo winter 2020

Signs of winter are everywhere, as in this deserted playground where only the snow is using the slide.

Little La Nina has come out to play, and as many of the area’s weather buffs can tell you, that means winter is likely to trend colder and wetter than usual in the MonDak.

La Nina means little girl in Spanish. It refers to the weather pattern that develops when the sea’s surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific are consistently cooler than average for an extended period of time. These cool waters move the jet stream around a little bit, which in turn affects the general weather pattern here in the MonDak.

Of course, every La Nina is a little different. But there are some generally predictable tantrums ... er patterns. Among these, the polar jet stream is typically pushed further south than usual, and that leads to colder than usual temperatures.

While the La Nina effect is a broad pattern, it doesn’t generally have specific effects on things like when the first freeze in the fall happens, or the last freeze in the spring. Nor does it necessarily lessen the potential for blizzards, or the intensity of any particular storm or weather event. It also doesn’t necessarily affect drought or flooding in the spring.

According to the Climate prediction Center, there is greater than an 85 percent chance that our La Nina will be sticking around through the winter. There’s also a 60 percent chance she will persist through early spring.

The most recent La Nina was in 2017-18, and it was a weak pattern. Most of the region was colder than normal, but only Montana saw more moisture than usual. North Dakota was drier.

Only time will tell whether this La Nina will behave according to predictions, but it’s best to be prepared in either case for what could be a colder and wetter winter than usual.

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