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A warmer winter with less snowfall resulted from El Niño in 2023-24, and we are expecting to see a La Niña winter in 2024-25 bring more snow and colder temperatures. But what happens between those two phenomena?

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Senior Climatologist, David Phillips, sheds light on the often overlooked but crucial time between El Niño and La Niña, which he refers to as 'La Nada.'

"The El Niño has been dead in the water since probably about February. We are now into that transition, that kind of neutral stage which some people call 'La Nada,' which is nothing," he laughs.

Phillips explains that the transition to La Niña usually comes in winter, but there tends to be little of an effect felt in the summer months from either El Niño or La Niña.

"El Niño came so early that we figured it may have influenced our warm summer last year. It certainly affected our winter, but La Niña is not here yet. All the prospects are that it's going to take hold. The water temperatures in the Pacific are neutral. They've transitioned from the warm water, and they're heading, it looks like, to the cooler water. The deeper waters are also cooler, which is another sign of that La Niña is going to happen."

Phillips reiterates that the impending La Niña, which is associated with more snow and colder temperatures, is not a cause for immediate concern, but it is important to be aware of its potential impact on weather patterns.

"It shouldn't scare the bejeebers out of you. The fact that it's La Niña doesn't necessarily guarantee you're going to have a colder-than-normal winter next year. That's often the case when you look at it over the last 50-60 years. But, in the last 20-30 years, sometimes those La Niñas have come almost to be like kind of mild El Niños, in fact. So, it doesn't mean you'll be in for a good old-fashioned kind of winter. It could be actually normal or a little even warmer than normal. We will see."

Phillips notes that it will still be a long summer before we reach a stage to discuss La Niña further.