The saying goes, "You don't know what you got until it's gone."

El Niño brought mild temperatures and lacklustre snowfall for the prairies this past winter and is about to wrap up when spring concludes. Alyssa Pederson, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says we will now be going into a neutral weather pattern before La Niña takes over and does a 180 degree flip for this coming fall and winter compared to last.

Pederson explains what to expect when La Niña comes to Portage la Prairie in the latter months of 2024.

"What we typically see with La Niña in Western Canada is the potential for it to be a little bit snowier further west. So, a little bit snowier in Alberta, and then as we go further east into Manitoba, it's generally colder than normal for the season. So, come winter, it could be a little bit colder than what we'd normally see."

She says this is just one piece of the climate puzzle that gives us an idea of what to expect in the long-range forecast.

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The meteorologist assures us that we can rely on past patterns to predict the future, as it is not uncommon to transition from El Niño to La Niña in consecutive years.

"Similar years to what's happening now would have been 2016. We went from a strong El Nino in the 2015 - 2016 winter right into La Niña that fall as well. The same thing happened in 2009 and 2010."

Pederson notes that before this past winter when we had El Niño, we had been in La Niña for three previous winters.

"It is a trend that does seem to be flip-flopping back and forth, and it is something that we can measure as part of the climate system."

According to Wikipedia, La Niña episodes are defined as sustained cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, affecting climate conditions.