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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 12, NUMBER 5, MAY 1999

Strong La Nina Influences Global Weather Extremes

Item #d99may51

NOAA Press Release 99-14, dated Feb. 23, 1999, attributed to a strengthening La Niña the weather patterns that sent Alaskan temperatures dipping to -74° F from Jan. 26 to Feb. 13 and that brought flooding and heavy snow to the West, warmth to the East, and extreme weather to other parts of the globe. This phenomenon had its beginnings in May 1998, when a rapid cooling of the near-equatorial waters in the central Pacific signaled the end of the 1997/98 El Niño and the beginnings of a La Niña. Now that event has grown into one of the strongest La Niña episodes of the past 50 years.

The La Niña contributed to the series of huge storms that hit the Pacific Northwest, and blasted Washington, Oregon, and northern California with hurricane-force winds, heavy rains, and mountain snows. As a result, many sections of the northern-tier states in the West have this year experienced precipitation totals that are in the top 10 of this century. Meantime, sections of the Southwest suffer from lack of precipitation. The global La Niña impacts include heavy rains, severe storms, and flooding in southern Africa, drought in Kenya and Tanzania, flooding in the Philippines and Indonesia, and abnormal wetness in northern South America. The same regions suffered the opposite impacts during the 1997/98 El Niño.

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