La Niña Effect: Warmer, Drier Conditions Expected Next Winter

Clint ThompsonWeather

By Clint Thompson

Photo courtesy of UGA/Pam Knox

The cold temperatures and wetter weather conditions that were felt this winter across the Southeast are likely to be replaced with warmer temperatures and drier conditions next winter, believes Pam Knox, University of Georgia Extension agricultural climatologist.

It coincides with a La Niña weather pattern that is opposite the current El Niño that’s been observed the last couple of months.

“Assuming the La Niña is still here which is likely because it usually lasts at least a year, next winter is likely to be warmer and drier than usual,” Knox said. “A lot of the storm activity is going to move up into the Ohio River Valley. Depending on how strong it is, it may move all the way up into the northern parts of the valley or it could stick around and affect some of the more northern parts of the Southeast. It’s really too early to say what’s going to happen, but I think at least for Florida and South Alabama and South Georgia and up along the east coast, we’re likely to see next winter be warmer and drier than usual.”

This would be significant news for tree fruit, like peaches, that require chill hours to mature. If they do not receive the adequate amount of chilling, they will not produce. The required chill hours depend on the specific variety growers choose to plant.