This week NOAA issued a La Niña watch for the next 6 months throughout the Northern Hemisphere. La Niña is when cooler than normal conditions above the water push the warmer surface water towards the equator. When Fall and Winter come, deeper cooler water is able to surface leading to colder than normal conditions. A La Niña watch predicts that a La Niña event may occur in the next 6 months based upon favorable conditions.
What this means for the Northwest is that we will likely receive a cooler and windier fall and winter, similar to what we saw this past year. In the recent past, La Niña has been the culprit for conditions that led to the flooding in Vernonia and severe winter storms in the Willamette valley. However, local weather forecasters are only predicting if we have an event it will likely be mild to neutral in strength.
It’s worth note that we are already seeing significant impacts from cooler water. We are currently in the midst of Hurricane season (June 1st to November 30th), and the Red Cross is preparing for Hurricane Irene on the Atlantic coast. Hurricanes are strengthened by warm surface water, and for the first time since records started in 1851 the first eight named tropical storms of the season did not attain hurricane strength. We are near the end of August and are just seeing our first Atlantic hurricane. For comparison, around this time in 2005 Hurricane Katrina was forming as the fifth hurricane of the season (after a different Hurricane Irene).
This all serves as a good reminder to prepare for the winter. You can visit our website for suggestions on how to prepare for winter storms. Additionally, when there is potential for winter storms regular blood donations are incredibly important to maintain supply for when blood drives might be cancelled, as we saw on the East coast earlier this year.
PHOTO: Game of Thrones/HBO