This is a 3rd year of La Nina. The map below shows sea-surface temperature anomaly. Areas in blue have cooler than average water temperatures for late August and areas in yellow, orange and red have warmer than average water temperatures for late August:
Note the blue color along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. That’s cooler than average water – and when we have this pattern, it’s called La Nina. This is the 3rd year in a row when we’ll have a La Nina Pattern heading into the winter and it’s a relatively strong La Nina.
We’re currently at a -2.2. The only other year since the 1970s that had a value that low was the winter of 2010-2011. Now, anyone remember the winter of 2010-11 in West Michigan?
That winter we had the Groundhog Day Blizzard – the biggest snowstorm in West Michigan in the last 44 years. It was similar to the Blizzard of ’78, though we were much better prepared for the 2011 storm. That year was a terrible year for tornadoes, with 571 fatalities, 5,370 injuries and 26.54 billion in damage.
Now, I mentioned above that this was a 3rd year La Nina. The last time we had a 3rd year La Nina was 2011-12. In the spring of 2012, we had the Dexter, Michigan Tornado, an EF3. We had an extraordinary heat wave in March, with high temperatures soaring to the mid 80s. All the fruit trees blossomed and later frosts caused the worst fruit crop loss since 1945. We had another gigantic heat wave in July that sent the temperature soaring to 104° in Grand Rapids, the hottest day since 1936.
Now – I’m not trying to scare you. There are other factors that have an effect on our weather and sometimes those dominate…but just keep in mind that after a relatively quiet year (hurricanes/tornadoes/blizzards) this year, the fairly strong, 3rd year La Nina could spell more volatile weather this coming winter and spring.