NOTEBOOK: Is a "Triple-Dip" La Niña On Winter's Menu?

NOTEBOOK: Is a "Triple-Dip" La Niña On Winter's Menu?

Meteorological projections forecast the possibility of a third consecutive La Niña winter. What will this mean for your snow and ice ops?

I came across a news item the other day about a “triple-dip” La Niña phenomenon, which frankly, with the heat wave that settled in throughout the Midwest this week, sounded like a cool delicacy I could order from the local frozen custard stand.

Meteorological projections, according to a recent news article (CLICK HERE to read it in its entirety), forecast the possibility of a third consecutive La Niña winter for Western Canada. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), there is a 70% chance for La Niña to continue through the summer and a 50%-to-60% chance it will continue to the end of 2022 and into another winter.

And as you probably remember, during La Niña years, the jet stream over North America shifts further north, which causes changes in temperatures, storm tracks and precipitation, especially in the winter months.

I reached out to Thermodynamic Solutions (TDS) Meteorologist and Snow Magazine contributor Joseph Cooper for a little insight to learn what this potential “triple” threat means for Winter 2022-23 and the professional snow and ice management industry.

It is rare to spend three winters in a La Niña patter, Cooper says, and therefore it’s difficult to predict at this point with any certainty what it could mean weatherwise.

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“It’s kind of hard to tell how it could impact snowfall markets given that we don't have a reliable sample size,” he says. “It looks like winter of 1975-1976 and winter of 2000-2001 are the only two on record [with the triple La Niña pattern].

“If you look at the overall temperatures from the two years (see image), it suggests well-below-average temperatures across the Central and Eastern US,” he adds. “Breaking these down into each year, both analogs are very similar with the colder temperatures.”

Precipitation wise, most places are near average, but the combined analogs are a bit drier into the Tennessee Valley/Deep South, Cooper says. The 1979-77 winter, individually, was very dry across much of the US with the 2000-2001 winter being near normal regarding precipitation anomalies.

“With this being said, I have seen some new data just this morning that suggests we could quickly phase out of La Nina and into El Niño late fall and through the winter,” he adds. “So, we may not make it full through the ‘triple dip.’”

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.