Summer temperatures in most of the United States are expected to be significantly higher than normal this year, especially for the northern states, according to a forecast by The Weather Company.
“After a historically mild meteorological winter across many parts of the northern U.S., March has followed up nicely with more anomalous warmth and an early spring in many regions,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist of The Weather Company.
The hotter weather is said to be a result of the transition from El Niño to La Niña, according to The Weather Company.
El Niño refers to an event that happens every three to seven years in the Pacific Ocean. The surface temperature of the seawater rises as variations in tropical winds and pressure push the water east to the South American coast.
El Niño, which can last up to a year or two, can cause various global effects. Some regions might be much drier than normal while others can see much wetter weather, according to Weather Underground.
Sea surface temperatures in late 2015 and early 2016 have been recorded as some of the strongest El Niño events. The temperatures peaked in November 2015 and have been slowly falling since.
Temperatures are expected to neutralize by late spring or early summer and eventually turn into La Niña, according to Weather Underground.
La Niña is considered to be the counterpart to El Niño. La Niña is the cooling of ocean temperatures, according to Weather Underground.
Coreen Hurst, a geology professor on campus, said that even though El Niño happens every three to seven years, that does not necessarily mean that La Niña will follow every time. Weather is constantly changing and can be difficult to predict far in advance.
Hurst said she likes to use lava lamps as an example of predicting weather. It is almost impossible to predict the time each new blob of lava will rise, its length and when it will fall back down she said.
“The atmosphere circulates a lot like a lava lamp does,” said Sister Hurst. “Most of the time they don’t know what’s going to happen until it gets closer.”
For this reason, meteorologists will see different possibilities in weather now, that they would not have seen a few months ago.
Hurst said that La Niña would have an effect on the weather in Idaho. There cannot be a change in temperature in the ocean water without seeing changes in weather elsewhere she said.
Lee Warnick, a communication professor who has followed weather in the region for years, said that El Niño did not have a large affect on this past winter in Rexburg.
“El Niño did not do what it normally does,” said Warnick.
He said that even though this El Niño has been considered the largest in twenty years, that does not mean that everywhere in the world will experience big differences in weather.
Currently thousands are being evacuated because of wildfires in Canada, according to Associated Press.
Warnick said that this is because of the dry weather caused by El Niño.
“You will always hear in a strong El Niño year some bad things going on somewhere,” said Warnick. “They just didn’t happen to be here this time.”
A La Niña watch has been issued by the Climate Prediction Center, according to the Climate Predictions Center website. Warnick said, however, that we may not know for sure if La Niña will happen until fall.