Wetter La Niña expected to follow the current record El Niño

Weather experts say the current El Niño conditions that have caused drought in Guanacaste and on the Pacific coast probably will dissipate by July.

But there also is a good chance that the exiting El Niño will be followed closely by La Niña.

The current El Niño is the strongest ever recorded. And other Central American countries also have felt the drought.

Central Panama is currently suffering the most severe three-year drought in its history, according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 2013 to 2015 constitute the driest three consecutive years recorded on Barry Colorado Island, in the middle of the Panama Canal, where data has been collected for almost a century, the institute said.

El Niño generates drought in Central America, but La Niña is expected to be very wet. Both are products of changes in the distant Pacific. La Niña does not always follow El Niño, but the weather experts see signs that it will this year.

Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, gives this explanation:

“El Niño is a natural phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years, and is created through a shift in wind and ocean circulation. In normal, non-El Niño conditions, Pacific trade winds near the equator blow from east to west, moving warm surface water with them. During an El Niño, trade winds move from west to east from Southeast Asia to South America moving warm water to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. The warm ocean water evaporates, adds moisture to the air and falls as precipitation over nearby regions.”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration agency keeps close track of the world’s weather from space. The agency notes that the Niños do not create more moisture. They just move it around.

There also is a good chance that a growing La Niña will influence the Atlantic hurricane season, said Goddard. La Niña is characterized by colder surface water near South America. La Niña can also spur abnormal weather patterns across the world, it adds.

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