Why so warm? La Niña

from Bonnie Parker on Click2Pins

Don’t be quick to blame climate change for such a warm December...the jury is still out on that one. However, La Niña is well-established and this is a typical warmer/drier pattern we’re stuck in! Look at the Pacific’s cooler than normal surface waters:

courtesy tropicaltidbits.com

Cooler water indicates La Niña conditions and NOAA puts out this generic graphic below -- notice the high-pressure system off the Northwest Coast:

Courtesy NOAA

And that set up is exactly what we’ve had and have today. I’ve drawn in the high-pressure systems. They are keeping the cold air and the jet stream (which transports moisture) to our north:

courtesy tropicaltidbits.com

And here’s the forecast for that pattern to continue. Notice the arrows that by-and-large continue a horizontal flow across the country. This zonal flow keeps the cold air north. There will be exceptions and you can see that one system (the dark red blob!) in Texas this Sunday that will allow for a brief cool down:

courtesy tropicaltidbits.com

So La Niña is doing exactly what it is supposed to do -- keep us dry and warm. A look back shows us that this is a moderate La Niña but the strongest we’ve had since 2010-2011. And THAT La Niña lead to a horribly hot 2011 summer and extensive drought across Texas:

Courtesy NOAA

How long will it last?

The La Niña effects -- warm and dry -- are likely through the springtime. There will be exceptions and a freeze or two is certainly possible, but the overall trend is forecast to continue at least until May:

Models forecast La Nina until May-June-July at which point Neutral conditions are expected

A lot of folks like these warm spells. You can read much more about the current warm weather at our click2houston article right here. You can see the forecast for the warm week there, including more on the cold front coming Sunday!

Frank

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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.