What impacts could La Niña have locally this winter?

By Jonathan Kegges - Meteorologist

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - With wildfires burning and dry conditions locally, will the upcoming winter season bring any relief to our moisture deficit?

Although El Niño and La Niña  may sound the same, they are completely different.

While La Niña is Spanish for "the little girl," she can have big impacts on the country.

The Winter of 2015/2016 got off to a very slow start. Temperatures well above normal, even in record territory, made skiing less than ideal; however, when it came, it came with a vengeance.

Last winter was marked by two big snow storms, one that came at the end of January bringing a foot to 20-inches of snow across these parts. The other brought a mixed bag of snow, ice, and rain.

Last year, the talk of the town was El Niño, but not this year.

In La Niña, the trade winds are strengthened, which leads to the cooling of the waters off the South American coast. Last year, the waters were much warmer than they are now. Both impact the weather in the United States in different ways.

In a La Niña pattern, the jetstream builds a big ridge out west, allowing the warmth to surge west. In the east, we have a dip, which allows cooler air to slide into the northern tier of the country, so a more active winter can be expected north.

On the southern side of things, it's typically warmer and drier.

And that is not good news for the wildfires in the Southeast United States or the dry stretch we have gotten into locally.

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