The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Niña warning for later this year, as an ongoing El Niño pattern shows signs of weakening.
The El Niño pattern may have peaked in January, with its effects slowly beginning to fade, according to forecasters.
According to the alert issued Thursday. Forecasters believe there is a 79% chance that the world will shift from the El Niño pattern, which has had a major impact on weather conditions in the United States and around the world, to a more neutral pattern during the spring months.
There is also an increased chance, about 55%, that the world will quickly move into a La Niña pattern between June and August, according to the observation released Thursday.
So what does it all mean?
According to the University of IllinoisLa Niña patterns occur when sea surface temperatures along the equator in the Pacific Ocean are unusually cold, compared to the unusually warm sea surface temperatures that occur during an El Niño pattern.
Trade winds become stronger during this period Events according to NOAAThis pushes warm water towards Asia, which then allows cold water to rise to the surface near the west coast of the Americas.
As the waters in the ocean cool, the jet stream pushes northward, funneling heavy rain toward the West Coast, but ultimately causing drought conditions in the southwestern and southern United States.
As for the impacts on Illinois, researchers say summer tends to be warmer and drier than usual during a La Niña pattern, while fall tends to see cooler and wetter conditions.
Winters tend to be warmer during La Niña, but Illinois is more vulnerable to cold snaps and heavy snow, according to researchers.
Elsewhere, La Niña could also cause widespread drought in the western United States, and could trigger more hurricanes in the Atlantic as well, according to PBS.