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October 9, 2011

La Nina chills winter forecast

— The Cambria-Somerset region was expected to have a milder winter with less snow than last year, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, but unexpected activity in the Pacific Ocean appears to be changing that forecast.

La Nina, a naturally occurring climate phenomenon located over the tropical Pacific Ocean, has unexpectedly returned for a second year, likely meaning colder temperatures for the winter of 2011-2012 than originally believed.

“We really didn’t see that. Suddenly it’s re-formed,” said Mare-Anne Jarvella, senior research editor for the almanac.

“La Nina may cause a little problem for us,” Jarvella said. “This may cause some cooler temperatures.”

The almanac, now in its 220th year, says the Appalachians, which according to the map includes the Cambria-Somerset region, will have winter temperatures slightly milder than last year and drier than normal, although snowfall will be above normal.

“I think we’re going to get a little bit more snow and cooler weather,” Jarvella said.

La Nina, which often is linked to cooler Pacific temperatures, influences global weather patterns and often results in cooler temperatures for the East Coast, according to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“La Nina came back and it will affect our winter,” said NOAA’s Maureen O’Leary. “It means cooling, lower temperatures in Pacific tropical waters.”

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