AUSTIN (KXAN) — The beginning of December means the much publicized La Niña winter is here, making for the third consecutive winter with La Niña conditions. La Niña is the cool phase of the climate pattern known as El-Niño-Southern-Oscillation (ENSO) that impacts our weather, particularly in the winter.

La Niña winters typically provide warmer and drier conditions for us here in Central Texas and other parts of the country deal with their own unique impacts from the climate pattern.

La Nina winter pattern (NOAA)
La Niña winter pattern (NOAA)

The latest update from the Climate Prediction Center favors, with 71% odds, an ending to La Niña and a transition to an ENSO neutral pattern by the February-April period.

While ENSO neutral means we get pulled out of the grip of the La Niña’s influence on our weather, especially in winter and spring, it also marks the beginning of a transition toward El Niño. Sometimes, like we’ve done briefly during this past three years, you can leave La Niña conditions for ENSO neutral and then return to La Niña conditions. However, there are signs that we may swing the other direction later next year.

The latest outlook now points to the beginning of El Niño conditions during the July-September period of 2023. El Niño is the warm phase of the El-Niño-Southern-Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern. The odds of this happening are not overwhelming, but El Niño is favored over a ENSO neutral or La Niña pattern (see below).

NOAA ENSO Probabilities (NOAA/CPC)
NOAA ENSO Probabilities (NOAA/CPC)

Like La Niña, El Niño has a bigger impact on our weather during the winter months compared to other times of year. It’s far too early to get an idea whether any potential switch to an El Niño pattern would carry into NEXT winter. If we DID in fact have an El Niño 2022-2023 winter we could see a wetter and cooler stretch for Central Texas.

El Nino winter weather pattern
El Nino winter weather pattern (Courtesy: NOAA)

For now we’ll just have to deal with the drier and warmer outlook this winter.

Stay with the First Warning Weather Team throughout the winter months as we take you through the coldest months of the year.