Is this a La Niña or El Niño year? Try La Nada


Meteorologists base a lot of their long-term weather projections on temperatures in the globally influential Pacific Ocean. But for more than a year the world’s most expansive ocean has been devoid of its famed El Niño and La Niña patterns — anomalously higher-than-average or lower-than-average bands of sea-surface water that help govern major weather events.

For now, the Pacific is stuck in a stubborn La Nada state: near-normal surface height and temperatures. Scientists say it could last into the spring, but that’s not so unusual: La Nada rules the Pacific about half the time. But it makes life difficult for weather forecasters, and it threatens to ignite unpredictably extreme weather. From NASA:

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