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Returning La Niña To Bring Dry Winter To San Diego

Aired 9/14/11 on KPBS News.

The La Nina weather pattern that delivered record rain to San Diego last year is re-emerging in the Pacific Ocean, but this time, the condition is more likely to keep our region dry.

La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the central ...
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Above: La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific. The colder than normal water is depicted in this image in blue. During a La Niña stronger than normal trade winds bring cold water up to the surface of the ocean.

La Niña is returning for a second straight year, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. But that doesn’t necessarily mean another wet and wild winter for San Diego.

The periodic cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean can affect weather worldwide and often results in drier-than-usual conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest.

Last year, the weather phenomenon contributed to record rain to San Diego, but Climate Researcher Dan Cayan with Scripps Institution of Oceanography said this time, the region should see drier than normal conditions.

“The situation this last winter was complicated. Part of the reason we were wet is because we had a very strong shorter period episode of storminess which involved what’s called an atmospheric river which can happen but in this case it was unusually persistent,” said Cayan.

Last year’s La Niña brought more than 50 feet of snow to the Sierras, flooding rains to the Midwest, and extreme drought to the Southwest.

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