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    La Nina Looks to Develop and Strengthen as Winter Approaches
    By Chris Gaige

       The winter of 2015-16, was characterized by FAR below average snowfall, and abnormally warm temperatures. During that time, one of the strongest El Ninos on record was occurring. While no direct link between El Nino and weather in CNY has been discovered, it was most likely one of many factors that contributed to our winter that wasn’t.
      
       El Nino is the phenomenon in which the waters around the equator, off the west coast of South America become abnormally warm. Conversely, La Nina is the phenomenon in which those waters become below average (I’m hesitant to say they become “cold” or even “cool” as waters in that region of the world never drop below 70 degrees). Last season, the waters in that region were 6 degrees celsius above average, a huge amount in terms of climate. The latest infrared satellite imaging released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the waters have been cooling, and are presently around their average temperature. Most current predictions favor the continued cooling of these waters through February or March 2017, with waters reaching average La Nina conditions by November, then strong La Nina conditions by January or February, before starting to shift back towards average temperatures.
     
       The biggest things to keep in mind regarding La Nina and El Nino is that they do NOT influence specific weather events for our area and they are ONLY one of many factors that will shape our winter. With that being said, there are generalizations that can be made for regions of the country assuming the La Nina forecast holds. La Nina conditions have historically led to colder and wetter/snowier than normal conditions for the northern half of the Continental United States, and warmer and drier than normal conditions for the southern half.
     
       Another piece of information to keep in mind as people start to look towards winter is the past summer. Conditions featured above average temperatures. This means, because water retains heat superbly, that the Great Lakes will be above average in their water temperature going into the fall and the early portion of the winter. Due to this, it is very likely that there will be a strong Lake Effect season, however because Lake Effect is so unpredictable, and generally only impacts a very specific area, it will not necessarily translate to a lot of snow for everybody.
     
       While winter is still very far away, early indications show potential for a strong winter. It is too early yet to start forming predictions about the Winter of 2016-2017, however the earliest indicators are just starting to emerge, and the puzzle is beginning to be put together, one that hopefully shows a snowy and classic winter, given last season’s tremendous disappointment. Stay tune for further updates about the Winter of 2016-2017.