La Niņa means The Little Girl. La Niņa is sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niņo, or simply
"a cold event" or "a cold episode". La Niņa is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial
Pacific, as compared to El Niņo, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean
temperatues in the equatorial Pacific. Shown below is the Reynolds sea surface
temperature in the equatorial Pacific from Indonesia on the left to central America on
the right (20N - 20S, 100E - 60W). Also see the entire Pacific Ocean.
In the tropics, global climate variations in La Niņa tend to be opposite those of El Niņo. At higher latitudes, El Niņo and La Niņa are among a number of factors that influence climate. However, the impacts of El Niņo and La Niņa at these latitudes are most clearly seen in wintertime. In the continental US, during El Niņo years, temperatures in the winter are warmer than normal in the North Central States, and cooler than normal in the Southeast and the Southwest. During a La Niņa year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.