La Niña Winter: What to expect

Weather Blog

La Niña is a naturally-occurring cycle of cooler than normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific near the Equator that typically leads to warmer and drier winter weather in Central Texas.

During this pattern, the cooler the ocean temperatures, the stronger the pattern is considered. With a moderate to strong La Niña pattern quickly developing and likely to last through the coming winter months, we took an in-depth look at what this could mean for Austin area weather.

In our analysis of moderate and strong La Niña winter weather patterns over the last 30 years, we found the following in Austin:

  • High Temperatures: 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal
  • Low Temperatures: 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal
  • Rainfall: 0.68″ drier than normal

Dry winter conditions in the strong La Niña during the winter of 2010-2011 likely contributed to the record hot summer of 2011 since soil moisture was so low. The period during and immediately after that pattern was the driest 12 months in Texas history.

We conducted this analysis by looking at December-February conditions (meteorological winter) for Camp Mabry during the following years:

  • Moderate events: Winters of 2011-2012, 1995-1996
  • Strong events: Winters of 2010-2011, 2007-2008, 1999-2000, 1998-1999

Take a closer look into our full data below.

Moderate eventsHigh T DepartureLow T DepartureAvg T DeparturePrecip Departure
Dec-11-1.91.3-0.32.53″
Jan-125.31.93.62.48″
Feb-121.23.32.41.02″
Dec-951.23.72.4-1.89″
Jan-961.7-3.7-1-2.16″
Feb-964.11.22.7-1.4″
AVG1.9333331.2833331.6333330.096667″
Strong EventsHigh T DepartureLow T DepartureAvg T DeparturePrecip Departure
Dec-102.60.71.7-1.61″
Jan-11-1.5-2.1-1.80.7″
Feb-111.9-1.80.1-1.54″
Dec-074.7-0.42.2-1.73″
Jan-08-0.6-1.7-1.1-1.4″
Feb-0880.74.4-1.51″
Dec-994.81.53.1-1.25″
Jan-004.13.63.80.63″
Feb-007.96.37.1-0.27″
Dec-98-1.42.10.3-0.84″
Jan-995.82.34-2.02″
Feb-998.16.57.3-1.99″
AVG3.71.4752.591667-1.06917″
Weighted averages for moderate/strong events
+3.111111+1.411111+2.272222-0.68056″

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