During spring 2011, the Northern Great Plains experienced record flooding. This video explains how a La Niña climate pattern helped set the stage for this extreme event.

Near the Earth’s equator, solar heating is intense year round. Converging trade winds and abundant water vapor all combine to produce a persistent belt of daily showers known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

As far back as August 2010, NOAA's seasonal climate models predicted that rainfall would be heavier than normal across Indonesia and Southeast Asia in early 2011. The cause? La Niña.

The ocean is the largest solar energy collector on Earth. More than 90 percent of the warming that has happened on Earth over the past 50 years has occurred in the ocean. Not all of that heating is detectable at the surface because currents move some of the heat to deeper layers of water, where it can "hide" for years or decades.

Weather in the Southeast this fall and winter is keeping up with the dry part of the typical La Niña pattern. Precipitation across most of the Southeast was "below" or "much below" normal for October-December.

In early June 2010, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center reported that the ocean and atmosphere conditions across the Pacific were favorable for the development of a La Niña episode.

The early wet season of 2010 was typical of La Niña, with rainfall in December 2010 between 200 and 400 percent above normal in much of Queensland, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Mark Eakin, a coral reef specialist and Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral ReefWatch program, discusses coral bleaching in the Caribbean in 2010.

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