La Nina playing out as expected - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

La Nina playing out as expected

A typical La Nina Pattern In the U.S A typical La Nina Pattern In the U.S
The latest U.S Drought Monitor as of January 30 The latest U.S Drought Monitor as of January 30

At the beginning of the winter season, I did a blog on the developing La Nina in the Pacific and its impact on the continental U.S. and the Mid-South. 

La Nina is a below average cooling of the equatorial waters of the Pacific. 

When the pattern sets up, it typically creates a warmer and drier pattern for the southern third of the U.S., a wetter than average Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley, and colder than average northern tier. 

Here in the Mid-South, we are typically subjected to the above average precipitation along with widely fluctuating temperatures. 

That has certainly been the case this season with wide swings in temperatures from bitter to cold to unseasonably warm within just a matter of a few days.  And we have also certainly seen our share of precipitation with more than an inch and a half above average rainfall for December and two and half inches of snowfall in January which was about a half an inch above average for the month. 

The real evidence is seen when comparing a map with a typical La Nina weather pattern with the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. 

You can see the areas where drought conditions are in place compared to where drier conditions are anticipated. 

You will also notice that the Mid-South is surrounded by areas of abnormal to severe and even extreme drought conditions. 

You'll also notice the path of the jet stream from northwest to southeast with a shift to the northeast developing right over the Mid-South. 

This has kept the active weather pattern in place for us bringing periods of precipitation every two to three days followed by periods of bitter cold.  

As we look ahead, current data indicates the La Nina pattern is reaching its peak and will weaken as we get into the beginning of spring. 

That means that we'll likely continue to see up and down temperature patterns and above average precipitation for the remainder of the winter season. 

We also want to monitor this closely because a La Nina pattern going into spring often brings an increase in the potential for severe weather in the Mid-South and the southeastern U.S. 

The abundance of moisture, the fluctuation in temperatures, and the increase in Earth's angle toward the sun can create an environment more conducive for strong to severe storms. 

The First Alert Weather Team will keep you posted on this as we make our way toward spring. 

For now just keep in mind that winter is not over the pattern of the last few weeks is likely to continue for the next four to six weeks.  

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