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Southern AER

A Quarterly Activity Bulletin of The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources-Southeast Regional Climate Center
FALL 1998
Volume 4, No. 3

What is La Nina?

La Nina is characterized by unusually cold sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. The effects of La Nina is even felt in the United States, as are the effects of El Nino. La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm sea surface temperatures. Since air masses take on the characteristics of the water below them, La Nina and El Nino impact weather patterns all over the globe. What Weather Patterns are associated with La Nina in the Southeast? La Nina phases are associated with warm, dry winters in the Southeastern United States. These weather patterns are opposite to those associated with El Nino. The dry conditions are already being noticed across the Southeast.

A climate normal is defined as the thirty year average that occurred between 1961-1990. Deviation from normal is defined as how far away - above or below - an amount of precipitation or the mean temperature is from normal. A negative number identifies below normal, a positive number identifies above normal, and zero identifies normal.

Answer the below questions from the following chart: (Southeast: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia)

1. In the chart above, what do you notice about the precipitation amounts during La Nina events vs. the "Normal"? Is there more or less precipitation during La Nina Years?

2. Which month received the least precipitation during the 1903-1904 La Nina phase?

3. What is the Normal Precipitation for the Southeast during December, January and February?

4. During which La Nina phase did the least amount of precipitation fall in the Southeast?

5. Which of the five months has the lowest Normal precipitation?

Answer The following questions from the chart below:

6. Judging from the chart above, would you say that La Nina years are warmer or cooler than Normal?

7. During what months are these temperature differences the largest?

8. The January Southeast Average temperature was over 10 degrees above normal during what La Nina phase?

Answer the following questions from the map below:

9. Is the October, 1998 precipitation above or below Normal?

10. What is the deviation from Normal precipitation where you live?

11. Have you noticed this difference in rainfall before looking at this map? How?

12. Does this map display what you have learned about La Nina impacts on the Southeast US?


TEACHERS Click here to send mail for answers to the activity questions.


Southern AER is a quarterly publication of the Southeast Regional Climate Center. Funding is provided by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Internet Resources On La Nina

bulletDefinitions of El Nino, La Nina, and ENSO
bulletLa Nina Information from NOAA

Permission is granted for the reproduction of materials contained in this bulletin.

Southern AER
Southeast Regional Climate Center
S.C. Department of Natural Resources
1201 Main Street, Suite 1100
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, or age. Direct all inquiries to the Office of Human Resources, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.