ElectionsVote

(dailynews.com) Remember last winter in Southern California? It was wild.

After several years of extreme drought conditions, the rains came with fury, pushing normal rainfall totals up from L.A. to the Inland Empire and from Long Beach to the Bay Area. Near-empty state reservoirs were filling up again. And ski resorts opened early.

This winter? Well, don’t get the parka out just yet.

True. Winter doesn’t start until Dec. 21, but this one could be much drier than the last one.

That’s because she’s back: La Niña.

That’s right. The counterpart to El Niño, La Niña is the weather phenomenon characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s compared to El Niño, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

But a La Nina means warmer, drier temperatures for Southern California. The cooler ocean temperatures in the Pacific create a downward movement of air from Alaska south along the West Coast. That sinking air creates an area of high pressure — and if you’ve heard enough of Dallas Raines over the years, you know that high pressure prevents rain.

Last winter we got a weak La Niña, and the West got one of the wettest winters on record.

Los Angeles received 131 percent of average rainfall from Oct. 1, 2016 through April 30.

A large swath of the East and Midwest had one of their warmest winters, according to the NOAA.

Eric Boldt, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said this year’s La Nina could weaken into “neutral territory” in February and March of next year. That would bring our winter back to something more normal.

Downtown L.A. generally gets about 15 inches of rain each winter, Boldt said.

But it’s not easy to know this far out if we’ll stay as dry as we are now.

“It’s hard to make an accurate forecast that far out, but if we persist the way we are that could be the case,” Boldt said.

That said, in Northern California, the state’s ski resorts were busy in November, coming off a huge 2016-17 snowpack.

Then again, this year… beware snow freaks: A few weeks ago, ski operators in the San Bernardino Mountains were anticipating a robust winter environment for playing in the snow for the Thanksgiving Weekend. But On Saturday, Nov. 25, Big Bear Lake wasn’t winter-like  at all. It tied a record high temperature — 71 degrees.

Get those snow machines ready.