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Climate Adaptation

La Nina Threatens to Return and Worsen Drought in U.S. West

  • The U.S. Climate Prediction Center issues a watch for La Nina
  • Chances that pattern comes back for second year rise to 66%
A section of a drought-stricken Shasta Lake in Lakehead, California, on July 2.

A section of a drought-stricken Shasta Lake in Lakehead, California, on July 2.

Photographer: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The possible return of La Nina threatens to give the drought-ravaged U.S. West another winter without much rain or snow.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center issued a watch for La Nina on Thursday, saying there’s a 66% chance the phenomenon will return for a second straight year some time in the November-January period. La Nina occurs when the equatorial Pacific Ocean cools, triggering an atmospheric chain reaction that can cause droughts across the western U.S. and roil weather systems globally.