La Niña

This is Stephanie of IMS.


You may have heard of the weather pattern El Niño, but what about La Niña?


El Niño is a natural phenomenon that causes changes (sometimes drastic changes) in the world’s weather and climate. It starts when the surface of the water in the Pacific Ocean becomes warmer than usual, and it can cause weather patterns ranging from flooding and downpours to mild winters and less hurricanes. Because El Niño tends to show up around Christmas, it was given its name (Spanish for “the boy child”) in reference to baby Jesus.


La Niña, meaning “the girl child”, was named for being El Niño’s opposite. Instead of unusually warm ocean temperatures, La Niña happens when the surface of the Pacific Ocean’s waters become colder than average.


And as it happens, La Niña will definitely affect Japan this summer.


The Meteorological Agency says that this is the first La Niña to affect Japan in six years. It should develop by the end of August and bring even hotter summer temperatures that last until autumn. And as a result of colder waters, Japan is expected to have fewer typhoons… but blistering summer temperatures in exchange. Recall that Japan’s last La Niña was in 2010, and nearly 2,000 people became sick or died due to record-high heat.


This summer, I’m making plans to visit some of the lava caves near Lake Kawaguchi north of Mt. Fuji. Luckily, the caves are near or below freezing year-round, and as such, some are even used for natural cold storage. A perfect way to cool off, but I’m not looking forward to the hike to reach them, however!


Remember to keep cool, stay hydrated, and covered in sunscreen. Be safe in the heat!