AUSTIN (KXAN) – As La Niña continues into the spring and possibly summer months with no apparent end in sight, it’s worth looking on its influence on spring weather in Central Texas.
Typically there are more weather pattern connections to the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere during La Niña or El Niño periods, but severe weather may be impacted in the spring.
According to NOAA, referencing a study that was published in April 2015 in Nature Geoscience, authors John Allen, Michael Tippett, and Adam Sobel document increasing severe weather in Central Texas during La Niña spring months.
In the image below you can see the decreasing (brown) or increasing (purple) frequency of tornadoes or hail during El Niño springs (March-May) on the left, versus La Niña springs on the right.
While El Niño shows a decrease in both hail and tornadoes in Central Texas during the spring, the opposite is true in La Niña spring months. The frequency of hail storms increases more dramatically than the increase in the number of tornadoes in La Niña springs, but they both become more common.
The reason for the change? The position of the jet stream is influenced heavily by the current phase of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Hotter and more humid weather pulled into Texas during the spring months of La Niña can lead to the development of more severe weather with more hail and tornadoes.
What about summer storms? The research is less clear on that, but we typically get more severe weather in spring than in the summer here in Central Texas, so this early warning about potential, elevated severe weather threats can be useful.
So in this La Niña spring, plan on the potential for more hail or tornadoes and make sure you’re prepared.