El Niño & La Niña (El Niño-Southern Oscillation)

a partial globe, cropped in on the tropics and subtropic of the Pacific Ocean showing departures from average sea surface temperature along the equator. Blue is cooler than normal and orange-red is warmer than normal.


Officially, we're still in La Niña, but it's barely hanging on, which means its influence on seasonal climate impacts in the U.S. will be weakening. Ocean surface temperatures in the key region of the tropical Pacific rose throughout March and were just below the threshold for neutral conditions for the month as a whole. The bull's-eye of heavier than usual precipitation in Indonesia that is one of La Niña's calling cards drifted eastward toward its more neutral location. Conditions are likely to be ENSO-neutral through summer. The next update will be May 10.

More ENSO status information
Latest official ENSO update
Latest ENSO blog update
ENSO Monitoring at the Climate Prediction Center


El Niño and La Niña are the warm and cool phases of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific—the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short.

The pattern can shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions of temperature, precipitation, and winds.

These changes disrupt the large-scale air movements in the tropics, triggering a cascade of global side effects.

More about El Niño
What is El Niño in a nutshell?
Understanding El Niño (video)
ENSO alert system criteria
ENSO essentials
Educational Resources on ENSO

La Niña, winter impacts

Cooler and wetter in the Northwest, warmer and drier across the South

La Niña is anchored in the tropical Pacific, but through the jet streams, it affects seasonal climate "downstream" in the United States. This map shows typical impacts of La Niña on U.S. winter weather based on past La Niñas, but the exact location and strength of impacts vary from event to event, and some might not occur at all. 

Typical U.S La Niña impacts
Winter temperature and precipitation
Hurricane season impacts
Current outlooks
6-10 day outlook
8-14 day outlook
1-month outlook
3-month outlook

La Niña winters

El Niño and La Niña have their strongest impact on global climate during the Northern Hemisphere winter.  The map at left shows typical December-February rainfall and temperature patterns during La Niña winters, but we may not see all impacts during every event. 

More information
ENSO's cascade of global impacts
The Walker Circulation
More maps of global impacts of La Niña and El Niño

April 2018 ENSO update: what lurks beneath

April 12, 2018

Like a shark poised to swallow its prey, a large wave of warm water lurking beneath the surface of the tropical Pacific is likely to put an end to the winter La Niña of 2017-18.

Read more


A downwelling wave of warm water sat beneath the surface of the tropical Pacific in the first week so April 2018. Only a small pocket of cooler than average surface waters remained in the eastern part of the basin, signaling the fading of La Niña. Climate.gov image based on CPC data.