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Adios El Niño? July 2, 2010
La Nina graphic
Kelvin (thermal) waves can be seen moving westward across the Equator as parrt of El Niño-La Niño.
The recent emergence of a band of cold water seen hugging the equator in satellite images has some forecasters believing that El Niño’s cooler sister La Niña is developing.

There are still pools of warm water on each side of the cooler-than-normal equatorial strip, indicating that El Niño is not yet entirely gone, according to scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

“The next few months will reveal if the current cooling trend will eventually evolve into a long-lasting La Niña situation,” said JPL oceanographer and climatologist Bill Patzert.

All of the past four years have been influenced by either the warm Pacific waters of El Niño or its cold-water counterpart.

This has caused alternating global weather shifts typical of each pattern instead of allowing normal “neutral” conditions to prevail.

Historically, only about 35 to 40 percent of all El Niños are followed by a La Niña.

While each La Niña is unique in its effects on the weather, a return of it typically brings drier and warmer weather to the southern half of the U.S., with often acutely dry conditions to the Southwest.

Temperature Anomaly Data: NOAA