La Niña and Winston Salem: What You Need To Know

By Alexis Hurley, Staff Writer

After an eventful El Niño year, the arrival of La Niña was declared by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists on November 10. La Niña, the opposite phase of El Niño, will cause warmer than average temperatures in the Southeastern United States this winter. However, its effects are expected to be weak and short-lived.

La Niña is caused by below-average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Its counterpart is El Niño, which is caused by warmer-than-average sea surface temperature across the same equatorial waters.

“[La Niña] is a global weather phenomenon that impacts weather on a grand scale,” WXII Chief Meteorologist Lanie Pope said. “It can affect our hurricane season as well as our winter seasons.”

Last year, those who spent Christmas in Winston Salem were not pleased with the 70 degree weather that day. The same weather conditions may be in store for this holiday season.

“Christmas is about being with friends and family, but snow just makes it even better,” sophomore Sarah Frances-Dillon said. “It’s like an ice cream sundae with no cherry on top – it’s still good, but it could be better.”

La Niña is a problem for farmers in North Carolina who must deal with the lack of rainwater needed to grow their crops. It is also a concern for Southern California, where drought has been a prominent threat as scientists struggle to provide clean water for their citizens.

While the Southern U.S. is worrying about the upcoming drought, Northern regions will be experiencing wet and cold weather conditions. Many RJR students are disappointed with the possibility of having no snow, and some plan to travel north to escape the warm winter in North Carolina.

“My dad lived in the North and was a big skier when he was younger,” sophomore Lilly Reed said. “Seeing as we might not get snow this year, we might want to go back to where he used to live and go skiing there.”

Fortunately, the current La Nina is predicted to be weak, unlike the 2015 record-setting El Niño, which caused deadly drought across the globe and helped make it the hottest year on record. Many scientists are hoping that this La Niña will slow down the rising global temperatures and prevent 2016 from becoming the third consecutive hottest year for the planet.