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Ocean cooling system 'La Niña' will return to Calif.

October 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
La Niña is associated with cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which influences weather around the world.

For Southern California, that means cooler and drier than normal weather conditions.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert says there are a couple of wildcards in this prediction that Southlanders need to be aware of.

One of the big wild cards is, we're not done with the Santa Ana season and so we could still be looking at a big Santa Ana fire season," Patzert said.

That's an above normal wildfire season experts predict will start this winter and last well into spring.

La Niña is associated with cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which influences weather around the world.

For Northern California, La Niña means colder and wetter than average conditions. But that's actually good news for the state.

"There's an upside to La Niña," Patzert said. "We could get heavier snow packs in the northern and the central Sierras were in California and that's really good news if we get a heavy snowpack for next year's water supply."

La Niña doesn't necessarily mean the Southland will stay dry this winter. Experts say we could be in for a couple of doozey rain storms.

"We could get a couple of really big blasts of cold air out of the north, the north pacific, and see some pretty heavy weather and serious storm like we did last December," Patzert said.

Forecasters say La Niña returned in August, but watch for her to gradually strengthen and continue from December through February.