La Niña is officially coming

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

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

8 PHOTOS
El Nino's effects
See Gallery
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)
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)
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)
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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.

SSTA201603 mainwebpage (1)

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

2 PHOTOS
February winter weather across U.S.
See Gallery
La Niña is officially coming
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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.

More from Business Insider:

Read Full Story

From Our Partners

If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts
Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside