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How Does La Niña Affect Texas Weather?

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Marley Malenfant, Austin American-Statesman

  La Niña has a notable impact on Texas weather, primarily influencing temperature and precipitation patterns. Here’s how La Niña typically affects Texas, according to NOAA:

  1. Temperature: La Niña often brings warmer-than-average temperatures to Texas during the winter months. The warmer conditions are a result of the jet stream shifting northward, reducing the frequency of cold air masses moving into the region. Summers during La Niña years can also be hotter than normal, with higher heatwaves and increasing demand for water and energy.
  2. Precipitation: La Niña is usually associated with drier-than-normal conditions across Texas, particularly in the fall and winter months. The northward shift of the jet stream tends to divert storm systems away from the state, reducing the overall rainfall. The reduced precipitation can lead to an increased risk of drought. Texas may experience significant water shortages, affecting agriculture and water supply and increasing the likelihood ofwildfires.
  3. Severe weather: Due to warmer temperatures during La Niña winters, the likelihood of severe weather, such as snow and ice storms, is generally lower. However, La Niña can increase severe weather events like tornadoes in Texas due to enhanced instability and favorable atmospheric conditions.
  4. Hurricane season: La Niña can contribute to a more active Atlantic hurricane season. This means Texas might face a higher risk of hurricanes and tropical storms making landfall, bringing heavy rainfall and potential flooding. The NOAA predicts between 17 and 25 named storms this season, with 4 to 7 becoming major hurricanes classified as category 3, 4, or 5.

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