Skip to Content

July 2021 ENSO update: La Niña Watch

We are in neutral conditions now, but this week NOAA forecasters issued a La Niña Watch, indicating that they think La Niña will likely return in the September through November period and last through next winter. Although El Niños seldom last for more than one winter, it is not at all unusual for La Nina to occur two or sometimes even three years in a row. In their latest ENSO outlook, they point out that “of the twelve first-year La Niña events, eight (!) were followed by La Niña the next winter, two by neutral, and two by El Niño.”

Typically, a La Niña winter is warmer and drier than normal across the Southeast, although last winter’s climate was not typical due to the impacts of a Sudden Stratospheric Warming. That led to a huge cold outbreak that affected Texas and the entire central US (and parts of the Southeast as well) in February. Another SSW event is not likely to happen again this year, although it could, so a prediction of a warmer and drier than normal winter is to be expected since the seasonal forecasts are based in large part on statistics. One thing is certain: a return to La Niña will help keep this another active tropical season, which has already gotten off to an early start.