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La Niña watch is officially on: When will we feel its impact?

(NEXSTAR) — El Niño has officially ended, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday, and its cooler counterpart could be just around the corner. La Niña conditions are predicted to take hold over the Pacific Ocean as soon as July, setting the stage to affect our weather here on land.

The Climate Prediction Center issued a La Niña watch Thursday. The group of national forecasters say there’s a 65% chance La Niña forms between July and September. Chances increase even more as we move later into the year.

Odds are La Niña will be with us as we move into peak hurricane season. La Niña years are associated with more hurricanes and more damaging storms in the Atlantic basin.

This year appears likely to follow that pattern. Experts are predicting a record-breaking “hyperactive” 2024 season of tropical storms and hurricanes.

“The likelihood of a La Niña coupled with record warm sea surface temperatures is the reason the National Hurricane Center is forecasting an extraordinary hurricane season,” said Kathie Dello, North Carolina’s state climatologist. “States from Texas to Maine are making preparations for an active year.”

La Niña typically reaches its peak in the winter. That’s when it will likely have the strongest impact on weather patterns.

A La Niña winter usually means dry, warmer-than-average conditions across the southern half of the country. Past La Niña years have contributed to severe drought conditions in California and the Southwest.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley tend to get more precipitation, and northern states can see extra-cold weather.

Typical La Niña winter weather impacts are shown on a map created by NOAA. (Map: NOAA)

When we’re in a La Niña, water along the Pacific Coast is also colder and more nutrient dense, according the National Ocean Service. That’s also good news for marine life, like salmon and squid, that live along the West Coast.

Between now and whenever La Niña officially takes over, we’re in a situation described as “ENSO neutral,” meaning neither El Niño nor La Niña is in place. With or without La Niña in effect, national forecasters are expecting an abnormally hot summer for nearly all parts of the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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