La Niña is officially coming

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El Nino and La Nina

We're officially on a La Niña watch.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday that it's initiated its La Niña watch after new predictions suggest it could be here as early as this fall.

If it does materialize, the La Niña weather pattern would be coming on the heels of a particularly record-breaking El Niño, which NOAA forecasts will end this summer.

RELATED: More about El Niño and La Niña

22 PHOTOS
El Nino's effects
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La Niña is officially coming
NOAA has released an update to its El Niño advisory. This image shows the satellite sea surface temperature departure for the month of October 2015, where orange-red colors are above normal temperatures and are indicative of El Niño. This event is forecast to continue through the winter, likely ranking as one of the top 3 strongest events since 1950, before fading in late spring or early summer. El Niño has already produced significant global impacts, and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months. Seasonal outlooks generally favor below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States. (Photo via NOAA)
This combo of images provided by NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration), shows the three-month temperature, left, and precipitation forecasts for the U.S. Forecasters say this winter El Nino is about to leave a big wet but not necessarily snowy footprint on much of the United States, including parched California. NOAA on Thursday issued a winter forecast, heavily influenced by one of the strongest El Ninos on record. (NOAA via AP)
This combo of images provided by NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration), shows the three-month temperature, left, and precipitation forecasts for the U.S. Forecasters say this winter El Nino is about to leave a big wet but not necessarily snowy footprint on much of the United States, including parched California. NOAA on Thursday issued a winter forecast, heavily influenced by one of the strongest El Ninos on record. (NOAA via AP)
These false-color images provided by NASA satellites compare warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures from the strong El Nino that brought North America large amounts of rainfall in 1997, left, and the current El Nino as of Oct. 1, 2015, right. Warmer ocean water that normally stays in the western Pacific, shown from cooler to warmer as lighter orange to red to white areas, moves east along the equator toward the Americas. Evidence is mounting that the El Nino ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific will spawn a rainy winter in California, potentially easing the stateâs punishing drought but also bringing the risk of chaotic storms like those that battered the region in the late 1990s. In the clearest warning yet that Southern California could be due for a deluge, meteorologists said in a report last week that the already strong El Nino has a 95 percent chance of lasting through the winter before weakening in the spring. (NASA via AP)
Roofer Chuck Jewett, right, and a worker with Hull Brothers Roofing & Waterproofing check a water leak from a an air condition unit before resurfacing a roof at town homes at the Marina del Rey seaside community of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. While drought-plagued California is eager for rain, the forecast of a potentially Godzilla-like El Nino event has communities clearing out debris basins, urging residents to stock up on emergency supplies and even talking about how a deluge could affect the 50th Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Two girls are seen walk behind of dried up ricefield at Manggara Bombang village, Maros district on September 21, 2015 in Makassar, Indonesia. Indonesia's national disaster management agency has declared that the majority of the country's 34 provinces are experiencing drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the worst drought in the past five years. The dry season forces villagers to walk long distances to find clean water. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
NOAA issued an update to the El Niño analysis on September 10, 2015, in which forecasters from the Climate Predication Center say a strong El Niño is in place and likely to peak in late fall/early winter, and gradually weaken through spring 2016. This image shows the satellite-based average sea surface temperature data from the week of August 31 - September 6, 2015. Blue areas are cooler than the 1981-2010 average; red areas are warmer than that historical base period. The large pool of warmer than average temperatures along the equatorial Pacific is indicative of the El Niño conditions. (Photo via NOAA)
Sea surface temperature anomalies in November 1997 (left) compared to July 2015 (right). (Photo via NOAA)
This June 19, 2015 aerial photo shows a white heron taking flight over revealed fish nests, normally inches below the waterline in La Plata reservoir in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. Thanks to El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects global weather, less rain fell to help refill Puerto Rico’s La Plata reservoir, as well as La Plata river in the central island community of Naranjito. A tropical disturbance that hit the U.S. territory on Monday did not fill up those reservoirs as officials had anticipated. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
This June 15, 2015 photo shows mud cracks at the drought affected Carraizo reservoir in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Thanks to El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects global weather, the worst drought in five years is creeping across the Caribbean, prompting officials around the region to brace for a bone dry summer. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
FILE - In this June 22, 2015 file photo, a combine moves on to the next field while an other makes its last cut while harvesting wheat near Andover, Kan. Concerns about the quantity and quality of the U.S. winter wheat crop and an El Nino weather pattern blamed for dry conditions in other wheat producing nations have sparked a recent run up in wheat prices. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
FILE - In this July 12, 2006 file photo, a Joshua tree is engulfed in flames as the Sawtooth Complex fire burns out of control near Yucca Valley, Calif. In the California desert, Joshua tree seedlings are shriveling up and dying before they get the chance to put down strong roots. The species has weathered threats before. In the 1990s, moist El Nino conditions triggered explosive growth of exotic grasses that established themselves and left the forests vulnerable to large-scale brush fires. One such blaze charred 14,000 acres in 1999.(AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
A couple tries to cool off from the heat caused by El Nino with water overflowing from a defunct but still watery reservoir called the Wawa dam in Montalban in Rizal, east of Manila on February 21, 2010. El Niño was expected to dehydrate the Metro Manila area over in the next two months, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Earlier this month the government warned a possible drought caused by the El Nino weather system could slash Philippines rice yields this year. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tons of dead fish are seen on the banks of the Solimoes River due the water's low level, November 25, 2009 near Manaquiri, 120Km from Manaus. The dry season, affected by the weather phenomenon EL Nino, is worse this year. According a study from Brazil's universities USP,UNICAMP,UFRJ and Embrapa, the country could lose some USD 3.6 billion over the next 40 years. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)
This June 19, 2015 aerial photo shows the drought affected lakeshore of La Plata reservoir in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico expanded water rationing across several municipalities as it continues to confront a drought of potentially historic proportions. Thanks to El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects global weather, and a quieter-than-normal hurricane season that began in June, forecasters expect a shorter wet season. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
FILE - This Feb. 28, 2012 file photo shows a snow blower clearing a road after an overnight storm dropped several inches of snow near Echo Summit Calif. The weather forecast for this winter is mostly a shrug of the shoulders. For most of the nation, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and even average weather. That’s because certain global weather factors, like El Nino, aren’t big and apparent. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake in San Angelo, Texas. A combination of the long periods of 100-plus degree days and the lack of rain in the drought-stricken region has dried up the lake that once spanned over 5400 acres. The year 2011 brought a record heat wave to Texas, massive floods in Bangkok and an unusually warm November in England. How much has global warming boosted the chances of events like that? Quite a lot in Texas and England, but apparently not at all in Bangkok, according to new analyses released Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Researchers calculated that global warming has made such a Texas heat wave about 20 times more likely to happen during a La Nina year. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 1998 file photo, a woman waits for a tow truck on the hood of her brother's pickup after a wall of mud plowed down Laguna Beach Canyon Road in Orange County, Calif. forcing her to evacuate her home, in background. A long anticipated El Nino weather warping is finally here. But for drought-struck California, it’s too little, too late, meteorologists say. The National Weather Service Thursday proclaimed the somewhat infamous weather phenomenon El Nino is now in place. It’s a warming of a certain patch of the central Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide, associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere, a generally warmer globe, and fewer Atlantic hurricanes. El Ninos are usually so important that economists even track it because of how it affects commodities. This year's El Nino that has arrived isn’t big and is late so it’s unlikely to do much to alleviate the current California drought. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Heavy clouds covers Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta on November 29, 2009. The month of November ends the dry season and starts the wet period but the weather bureau anticipates El Nino's dry spell to affect Indonesian weather. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, a dock sits high and dry at the end of a boat ramp yards away from the edge of Folsom Lake near Folsom, Calif. Don’t blame man-made global warming for the devastating California drought, a new federal report says. A report issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said natural variations _ mostly a La Nina weather oscillation _ were the primary drivers behind the drought that has now stretched to three years. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
In this Monday Feb.22, 2010 photo, a fisherman works on his Tilapia farm at a lake in San Pablo, Laguna province south of Manila, Philippines as the country braces for a dry spell caused by El Nino phenomenon. On Friday Feb.26, 2010, with a reported fish kill in a dam in northern Philippines due to soaring temperatures, the Government's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, BFAR, advises fish pond owners slowly being affected by the phenomenon, to harvest their matured fishes to avoid fish-kill. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
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While El Niños are marked by abnormally warmer sea surface temperatures, La Niñas are marked by abnormally cooler sea surface temperatures. Those cooler sea surface temperatures also tend to reduce something called wind shear, a phenomenon that occurs when winds change their speed and direction over short distances. When winds can change their speed and direction quickly and easily, it makes hurricanes more likely because the area near the center of the storm can't cool down.

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Photo courtesy: NOAA

El Niños aren't always accompanied by La Niñas, NOAA points out. But if one does materialize this year, it will be the first one we've seen since the last one ended in 2012.

RELATED: Remembering the colder days earlier this year

22 PHOTOS
February winter weather across U.S.
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La Niña is officially coming
A pedestrian walks through Washington Park as light snow falls on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain made driving conditions dicey for commuters across upstate New York, with winter storm warnings and hazardous weather advisories posted throughout the state. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Harry Henneman clears snow from the front steps of his daughter's house Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Truckee, Calif. A storm packing rain and high winds downed power lines, toppled trees and delayed flights across California, bringing back winter weather after several days of record-heat. In the Sierra Nevada, the winter storm dropped 1 to 2 feet of light powdery snow late Wednesday, adding to a snowpack that could ease but not end drought conditions when it melts in the spring. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
One of the 19 stainless steel statues of the Korean War Veterans Memorial is covered with snow in Washington, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. Bitter cold was replaced by snow, sleet and rain Monday in the mid-Atlantic states and the South, but many residents were able to hunker down at home with federal offices and many businesses closed for Washington's Birthday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A vistor to the Washington Monument walks past flags flying a half-staff in honor of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on a wintry Presidents Day holiday in Washington, Monday, Feb, 15, 2016. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
People survey damage to a business off Mississippi Highway 18 in Sylverana, Miss., Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, after severe weather affected south Mississippi. No injuries were reported in the storm. Officials are investigating reports of at least two possible tornadoes that accompanied a line of thunderstorms across central and southern Mississippi Monday. (Ryan Moore/WDAM-TV, via AP)
Frost on a window forms a heart-shaped pattern on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, in Falmouth, Maine, where the early morning temperature dipped below zero. More cold weather is forecast for the Valentine's Day weekend in New England. (AP Photo/David Sharp)
A bus window is covered by snow and ice, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Evanston, Ill. Snow has now overspread nearly all of the Chicago Metro area early Sunday afternoon and is expected to continue into the night before ending. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
People are bundled up as they walk in cold weather, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in the Queens borough of New York. Bitter temperatures and biting winds had much of the northeastern United States bundling up this weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A bare tree stands in a snowy field near Freeland, Md., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. The mid-Atlantic region awoke Tuesday to a mix of rain and snow. The weather service issued a winter weather advisory in the region and expected the mix to change over to snow and fall occasionally during midday hours, with rain mixing in during the afternoon south of Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Two women run through a snow flurry Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A passenger waits in the snow to board a bus at Kennedy Plaza in Providence, R.I., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, could see winter storm conditions with an accumulation of 4 to 8 inches. The heaviest snowfall is expected during Monday's morning commute through the afternoon. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Kevin Lord, of Sagamore Beach, Mass., braves near hurricane-force winds to inspect storm erosion on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, along a beach near his home in Bourne, Mass. (AP Photo/William J. Kole)
Jeremy Kincaid clears a sidewalk with a snowblower after a snow storm Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Derry, N.H. The storm was New Englandâs biggest snowstorm so far this season, coming two weeks after a massive blizzard engulfed much of the Eastern Seaboard but largely spared Boston and points north. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton departs a campaign stop during a snow storm, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A snow covered playground is bathed in pink light at sunset before a town hall meeting with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Lancaster School in Salem, N.H., Friday Feb. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: Ai Koid, 25, fights gusty wind chills and snow while walking to the bus stop at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., February 13, 2016, to catch a bus to New York. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Andrew Story clears a sidewalk with a snowblower after a snowstorm Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Derry, N.H. The storm was New Englandâs biggest snowstorm so far this season, coming two weeks after a massive blizzard engulfed much of the Eastern Seaboard but largely spared Boston and points north. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A deicing team prepares a commercial jet for safe flight during severe weather at Denver International Airport, in Colorado, early Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. A powerful winter storm has shut down highways in eastern Colorado, closed many schools and slowed down traffic at Denver International Airport. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Looking southwest from Reno about 20 miles away, clouds obscured the top of Slide Mountain on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, where the Mount Rose ski resort received 18 inches of snow the day before. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)
A plow removes snow during severe weather at Denver International Airport, in Colorado, early Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. A powerful winter storm has shut down highways in eastern Colorado, closed many schools and slowed down traffic at Denver International Airport. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students on the campus of Northern Arizona University navigate through blustery weather in Flagstaff, Ariz., Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. A winter storm dropped snow on the region, closing schools and making travel difficult. (AP Photo/Josh Biggs)
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Here's a gif of the changing sea temperature anomalies happening now in the Pacific Ocean, which suggest a trend toward a La Niña:

via GIPHY

If a La Niña does form, it won't just increase the risks of a more intense Atlantic hurricane season. It could also lead to warmer and drier winters in the southern part of the US, while the Pacific Northwest, southern part of Alaska, and Midwest could feel the chill of cooler-than-average temperatures.

That could be a much different change of pace compared with what El Niño did to the U.S. last winter, when the East Coast had seriously warm December temperatures while the south experienced flooding and New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Oklahoma spent the weekend getting pummeled with a blizzard.

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