La Niña conditions develop: What does it mean for Virginia this winter?

Virginia News

This is what a La Nina looks like: Cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equator is indicative of La Nina in the tropical Pacific Ocean in September 2021. (NOAA

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — It’s likely the United State will see a La Niña winter for a second consecutive year.

La Niña is a climate pattern that is directly related to the water temperatures off the west coast of South America near the Equator. While warmer than normal ocean water temperatures are classified as an El Niño pattern, cooler than normal ocean water temperatures are designated as a La Niña. Evaporation rates and wind flow are impacted by the cooler or warmer waters, which in turn impacts the weather patterns in the western hemisphere.

According to forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions have developed and are expected to continue with an 87 percent chance of La Niña in December 2021- February 2022. A La Niña Advisory has been issued due to the following conditions in place:

  • The central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures were colder than average by at least 0.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Colder than normal sea water temperatures existed below the surface, indicating that colder sea surface temperatures would continue.
  • There were signs that the atmosphere was starting to respond to the changes in sea surface temperature.

What does a La Niña winter mean for Virginia?

Usually, La Niña winters spell out warmer-than-average temperatures and less moisture for the Commonwealth. If you’re a snow lover, this winter season may come as a disappointment. Drier-than-normal and mild conditions typically prevail during La Niña winters in Virginia. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see any snow.

For other parts of the United States, the weather looks wetter and colder in the Pacific Northwest and wetter and warmer for the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. The upper Midwest looks to experience cooler than normal conditions. Much of the southern states should stay drier than normal this winter.


On Oct. 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Climate Prediction Center will announce the U.S. temperature and precipitation outlook for the upcoming winter. The WFXR Pinpoint Weather Team will provide more information once the outlooks are released.

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