With fall coming to an end, winter is right around the corner. This winter will be an interesting one, as the weather phenomena named “La Nina” is expected to return for the first time since 2017-18. It has been three years since this weather pattern has occurred, and La Nina is expected to dictate the weather patterns across the United States this upcoming winter. La Nina occurs when the surface water near the equator of the Pacific Ocean is cooler than usual. This event causes a northerly storm pattern which is expected to bring more snow to northern states.
This should especially be true during the early winter months; states in the northern hemisphere should expect more early season snowfall than usual. According to meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center “La Niña is likely to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2020-21 (85 percent chance) and into spring 2021 (60 percent chance during February-April).”
Professional meteorologists predict that La Nina will have a significant impact on the weather patterns this winter, particularly during the early months of the winter season. Furthermore, NOAA predicts that there will be a weather pattern change during the middle of the winter season. This pattern change is expected to bring warmer, milder weather to northeastern states; this should lead to a lack of snowfall during the heart of winter as well as a shortened winter season. However, the Northwestern Rocky Mountain states are expected to receive above average snowfall, along with a much more severe, cold, and wet winter.
“Storms that slam into the Pacific Northwest may also deliver more snow to the mountains of Wyoming, northern Utah and the northern Colorado Rockies than what is measured in a typical La Niña year.” Accuweather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.
These regions typically receive far more snowfall during a La Nina winter, and this year should be no different. For example, Mammoth Mountain located in northern California traditionally receives an average of around 400 inches of snowfall per year. However, the ski resort receives an average of over 600 inches of snowfall during La Nina winters. This significant increase in snowfall should continue for Northwestern mountains in the 2020-21 winter season.