La Niña heading out? Conditions could go neutral by March

Figure 1. Average sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (°C) for the week centered on 3 January 2018. Anomalies are computed with respect to the 1981 2010 base period weekly means. Courtesy of CPC.

From the Climate Prediction Center:

Synopsis: A transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral is most likely during the Northern Hemisphere spring (~55% chance of ENSO-neutral during the March-May season).

La Niña remains in place, but a wave of warm water spreading eastward beneath the surface is a sign of weakening. The dryness across the southern U.S. is consistent with average La Niña conditions.

During January 2018, La Niña was evident in the pattern of below average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Most models in the IRI/CPC plume predict La Niña will decay and return to ENSO Neutral during the Northern Hemisphere spring 2018. The forecast consensus also favors a transition during the spring with a continuation of neutral conditions thereafter.

Figure 6. Forecasts of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the Niño 3.4 region (5°N
5°S, 120°W 170°W). Figure updated 18 January 2018. Courtesy of CPC.

La Niña is anticipated to continue affecting temperature and precipitation across the United States during the next few months. The outlooks generally favor above average temperatures and below median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and below average temperatures and above median precipitation across the northern tier of the United States.

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