Wet Rockies, dry Southeast likely as La Nina continues

A moderate La Nina is expected to continue through spring, bringing wet conditions to the northern Rockies and continued dryness to the Southeast, government climate experts said Thursday.

La Nina is a cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean that can cause changes in weather patterns around the world. It is the opposite of the better-known El Nino, a periodic warming of the same region.

The monthly update from the Climate Prediction Center calls for the moderate La Nina to continue into spring. Currently sea surface temperatures range from 2 degrees to 3 degrees Fahrenheit below normal in studied parts of the Pacific. This reduces rainfall over the ocean, and there are stronger-than-normal easterly winds blowing at low levels.

That indicates the likelihood of above-average precipitation over Indonesia and below-average precipitation over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, forecasters said.

For the contiguous United States, potential effects include above-average precipitation in the northern Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and parts of the Great Lakes region. Below-average precipitation is expected across most of the South, particularly in the southeastern states.

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