It’s official! La Niña has started and will last through Michigan’s winter – MLive.com

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La Niña has started, according to the branch of NOAA that monitors the ocean conditions. NOAA also says La Niña will last through our Michigan winter.

In the early August statement last month, NOAA gave La Niña a 60 percent chance of developing. Last month we were still under what NOAA calls a “La Niña Watch,” meaning La Niña could occur but hadn’t officially developed yet.

Now the discussion from September 9 says La Niña conditions have officially developed. We are no longer under a La Niña Watch. We are officially in a La Niña Advisory, meaning La Niña is now considered as occurring.

The chance for La Niña to continue through winter has been increased to 75 percent, up from 60 percent last month.

La Niña is a Pacific Ocean water temperature and atmospheric circulation condition. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño. During La Niña, a large stretch of the Pacific Ocean surface water turns colder than the long-term historical water temperatures.

So graphs and graphics below will show you the colder water, and how the cold water has developed.

ocean temps

This map is a little hard to make out where you are looking. The right side is South America and left side is near Australia. The blue area is a large area of colder than normal water on the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The blue area on the map above is a large section of colder-than-average surface water. This is what caused the La Niña to be declared.

zones

La Niña is divided into four regions. You can see all regions have cooling waters.

Above are the different sections of the La Niña region, and it shows colder-than-normal water has been developing since June.

The next two graphics are a little more abstract. Both graphics below show how the waters in the upper part of the ocean have been turning colder than average.

upper ocean heat

This graph also shows the upper ocean heat content, or lack of heat. This shows over the last four months water has been cooling in the upper part of the ocean.

upper ocean heat content

This graphic you have to pretend you are looking at the ocean from a side view. This shows an area of colder water from the surface down to about 500 feet deep in the eastern half of the Pacific.

So will the cold surface water last? The graphic below has a bunch of lines on it. These are all of the computer model forecasts ran by various meteorology departments around the world. The goal is to forecast how much colder than average the La Niña waters will become. The thicker blue line is the human-decided consensus forecast.

models

Here are all of the model forecasts for how cold the water temperatures will become this winter. Dark blue line is the official consensus forecast.

According to the consensus forecast, La Niña will have surface water averaging about one degree Celsius colder than average this winter. A one degree colder variation would be called a moderate strength La Niña.

So it’s official! We have La Niña now, and we are going to have La Niña through winter. Check back here later today or tomorrow, and you’ll find a post on what that means for our Michigan winter.

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