La Nina settles in for the rest of the season

The summer rainfall regions of South Africa are in for wet weather, as an episode of the weather phenomenon La Nina settles in for the rest of the season, the SA Weather Service said on Wednesday.

“La Nina will intensify in January and February over the summer rainfall areas, but should clear in March,” senior forecaster Jan Vermeulen said.

La Nina (meaning “the girl”) is also sometimes known as “anti-El Nino” – as its effects are usually the opposite of those experienced during El Nino (“the boy”) which heralds a dry period.

La Nina and El Nino result from the interaction between ocean and atmospheric conditions.

While El Nino in Southern Africa is associated with warmer than usual seas in the eastern Pacific, La Nina – usually preceded by an El Nino period – is triggered by cooler ocean temperatures.

The two are mutually dependent, and they are collectively referred to as the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

El Nino is associated with dry conditions, but the onset on an episode of La Nina leads to normal or above normal precipitation.

The last half of a La Nina episode is typically wetter, so the rainy weather experienced lately through most of the country could be expected to intensify towards the end of the year and into the beginning of 2012.

 

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