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

map of departure from average sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean showing cool anomalies near the equator


La Niña remains in place, but a wave of warm water spreading eastward beneath the surface is a sign of weakening. The dryness across the southern U.S. is consistent with average La Niña conditions.  There is a 55% chance that conditions will return to neutral by the March-May season. The next update will be on March 8.

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

February 2018 La Niña update: tuned in

February 8, 2018

A deep wave of warmer than average water spread eastward across the Pacific in January, one sign that the current La Niña is weakening. 

Read more


Image at left shows sub-surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific in January 2018.