The above world map shows sea surface temperature anomaly – or the difference that sea level is from average. Areas that are blue show surface water cooler than average, while areas that are yellow, orange and red are areas that are warmer than average.

La Nina is signified by colder than average water along the Equator west of South America. We’ve been in a La Nina now for 3 consecutive winters. That has happened 3 times before, from 1954-57, from 1973-1976 and from 1998-2001. We have not had a La Nina for 4 consecutive years, so we expected this La Nina to start to fade.

You can see that it is doing that. There is still dark blue along the Equator in the Central Pacific, but warmer water is starting to show up now just west of South America and down the coast of South America (west of Chile)

NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecast for each of the three possible ENSO categories for the next 8 overlapping 3-month seasons. Blue bars show the chances of La Niña, gray bars the chances for neutral, and red bars the chances for El Niño. Graph by Michelle L’Heureux.

Above you can see the CPC forecast for ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) for the spring, summer and fall. We start out with La Nina through February, then move to neutral by March and into a (weak) El Nino by next fall. We’ll see if we hold a weak El Nino as we start next winter.

A very strong El Nino usually brings much of the U.S. a very mild winter, like the winter of 1982-83. However, weak El Ninos can on occasion bring us a cold winter. La Niña winters tend to have a wider range of daily temperature across much of North America. So it’s not surprising that we’ve going from snowstorm to extended thaw to snowstorm to extended thaw this winter. It’s also not surprising that California is going from drought to flood and now back to a drier pattern.

ALSO: GVSU basketball players and coaches pushing their bus out of the snow near Marquette. Did you know that they used to have ski jumping at Soldier Field in Chicago? Do you know how many vehicles cross the Mackinac Bridge in a month or a year? Juneau, Alaska has never been warmer than 90 degrees. The happiest country in the world. Very little ice on the Great Lakes. It snowed a lot in the mountains near Las Vegas. Find out what the weather was like on the day you were born. Giant waves in Hawaii. Near record low ice on the Great Lakes. Awesome aurora. Waterspouts off Italy.