Mid-Missouri could see another extreme winter

After a rough weather start to 2011 hopes are high for a quiet end to the year. Don't get your hopes up just yet.The climate phenomenon known as La Nia may be back as soon as this winter according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). What is La Nia? According to NOAA, "La Nia is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific." This is basically the opposite of El Nio, which is characterized by warmer than normal ocean temperatures in that same region. This weather pattern dominated the eastern Equatorial Pacific at the end of last year and for much of the first half of 2011. The result was abnormal weather patterns across the United states, including our infamous February blizzard and numerous severe weather outbreaks during the spring and early summer. La Nia basically sends the jet stream over the Midwest, keeping the storm track nearby. More storms will lead to more frequent cold spells and, yes, you guessed it, more snow. Despite the fact La Nia weakened this summer, we are still feeling the effects of the now gone weather phenomenon as extreme heat ruled for much of July and the start of August across the Midwest. Droughts in Texas, a record wildfire season in parts of the Southwest, and cooler than normal weather along the west coast this year have also been the result of La Nia. Though NOAA states that the eastern Pacific is currently in neutral conditions, the point between El Nio and La Nia, there are climate computer models that indicate that La Nia may redevelop this winter. As a result, NOAA has issued a La Nia Watch, meaning conditions are favorable for the development of La Nia over the next six months. Though a La Nia that may redevelop this winter would likely be weaker than the previous episode, we should still expect wild swings in our weather locally. This could lead to a another stormy winter and spring for us in Mid-Missouri.