La Niña affects temperatures, winter crop growth in North America

La Niña returns for round two this winter, though not as strong as it could be.

The weather phenomenon, which is the counterpart to El Niño, causes water temperatures to shoot down in the Pacific Ocean. (El Niño leads to warmer temperatures.) Both events affect weather around the world.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a weak La Niña has formed, reports the Associated Press. It’s expected to endure throughout the season — longer than last year’s brief November–February event, but equally weak.

What kind of weather can we expect, with La Niña upon us?

In North America, dry conditions can be expected in the south, with more rain and snow in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and Canada.

Unfortunately, La Niña is associated with lower crop yields in the parts of the U.S. that grow crops in winter. The last major La Niña caused a severe drought in much of Texas, leading to major crop damage.

Other areas that can expect more rain are Southeast Asia, northeastern South America and the southern parts of Africa. Parts of the southern hemisphere tend to be more agriculturally impacted by La Niña and El Niño, because they take place during those regions’ summer growing seasons.

However, experts stress that La Niña guarantees nothing. Montana-based meteorologist Joe Lester says La Niña is like a “weighted die,” increasing the odds of certain conditions, but nothing is set in stone.

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