AUSTIN (KXAN) – After the second winter in a row influenced by La Nina, it will be at least a few more months before we transition back to a neutral weather pattern — if we do at all this year.

The updated La Nina analysis from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Climate Prediction Center actually saw a strengthening of La Nina conditions during the second half of the month of February as sea surface temperatures got COLDER compared to average in the central and east-central Tropical Pacific.

Sea surface temperature anomalies (NOAA/CPC)

To return to an ENSO neutral phase, these temperatures would have to warm closer to average, not head the other direction.

This pushes back the expected return of a neutral phase with the expectation that La Niña will continue in the Northern Hemisphere at least into the summer.

ENSO forecast model predictions

The official forecast from NOAA/CPC now expects ENSO neutral conditions won’t return until after summer at the earliest.

ENSO Forecast from CPC/IRI

But when will we leave a La Nina phase? ENSO phase probabilities broken into three-month periods don’t paint a clear picture.

ENSO Phase Probabilities

The ENSO phase probabilities favor La Nina during the June-July-August period with 53% odds, but after that, it’s just as likely that we continue La Nina as it is going into a neutral phase. In fact, beginning with the September-October-November period it becomes slightly more likely that we go back into a La Nina phase heading into next winter than it is staying neutral (45% vs 43%).

The three-month weather outlook from the Climate Prediction Center suggest a warmer and drier than normal spring for Central Texas.

March-May Precipitation Outlook (CPC)
March-May Temperature Outlook (CPC)

If we were to remain or return to a La Nina phase for next winter that would mean another drier and warmer winter outlook for Central Texas.


While the long term outlook may not be very clear, it seems abundantly obvious that a transition to El Nino seems incredibly unlikely within the next year.