JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - La Niña stands for "the little girl" or "the girl child." According to NOAA, La Niña is defined as cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
La Niña occurs due to the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere in the Pacific.
So in other words, changes in the ocean impact the atmosphere and vice versa, which in turn have an effect on the climate patterns across the world.
With that being said, during La Niña a blocking high pressure sets up over the Pacific Ocean. This leads to a fairly active jet stream allowing for more storms for parts of the United States.
However, what does that mean in terms of precipitation and temperatures?
Due to the active jet stream, the Pacific Northwest typically is much wetter with cooler temperatures in the late fall through early winter.
At the same time the southwest and central plains are normally drier. As winter rolls around the drier conditions translate into the southeast along with warmer than average temperatures.
Region 8 is basically sandwiched in between. Often close to the active storm track, we can see wetter conditions, but also warmer temperatures.
This does not mean that we won't see cold outbreaks or snow. But, historically, we receive less snow. NOAA predicts this La Niña will get stronger and last through next spring.