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La Niña alert issued

Using new system

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the first La Niña advisory in February under its new El Niño/Southern Oscillation Alert System.

“The ENSO Alert System will succinctly inform industry, government agencies, academia and the public about the onset and status of La Niña and El Niño,” says Michael S. Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center.

Defined as cooler-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, La Niña impacts global weather conditions. La Niña conditions have been present since late December, but forecasters had yet to determine how strong the event will be and how long it will last.

They are confident, however, that La Niña will bring milder and drier than average conditions to the Southeast and Southwest, wetter than average conditions to the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and cooler than average temperatures to the Pacific Northwest. La Niña does not have a predictable effect on the Northeast, which is impacted more by Atlantic Basin activity, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

 This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.