What La Nina 2021 Means for RVers

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Motorhome in campground at night with lightning storm in background

The winter of 2020 was a La Nina winter, and this year it’s back. In what meteorologists call a “double-dip”. La Nina is an atmospheric weather pattern affecting weather and travel across the United States. 

So what exactly does La Nina mean for RVers and RV travel? We’ve got the details here, so let’s get to it. 

What Is La Nina? 

La Nina is a climate pattern that’s marked by cooler-than-average water in the Pacific Ocean. This natural cycle affects temperature and precipitation for several months at a time. 

A La Nina winter means winter temperatures across the US will be warmer than usual in the south and cooler than average in the north. In addition, the north will likely see more precipitation than expected. The south, meanwhile, will have a drier than average winter. That is the last thing the south needs.

La Nina 2021 Predictions and Outlook

It’s official: the NOAA has announced the return of La Nina for 2021. This weather pattern is expected to last through early spring 2022. Previous La Nina winters occurred during last winter (2020 – 2021) and 2017-2018. 

While not present every year, La Nina affects droughts in the west, hurricane season, and tornado season in the spring. Having two La Nina winters back to back is referred to as a “double-dip.” 

According to the NOAA, this year’s La Nina will likely extend favorable hurricane conditions in the Atlantic this fall, contributing to worsening drought conditions in the Southwest throughout the winter.

The odds of a cold and stormy winter for the northern portion of the US is very likely, as is a mild and dry winter in the south. Additionally, the country might see a busier than usual tornado season in the plains region and the south during the spring of 2022. 

While La Nina typically means warm and dry southern regions and wet and cold northern regions. Be aware that it’s a weather pattern prone to volatility. So, just because most of the winter will be either warm and dry or cold and wet, exceptions can occur. 

A graphic of a map showing where to expect cold and warm weather in the United States this La Nina season

What Does a La Nina Winter Mean for the South? 

A La Nina winter brings a greater possibility of a warmer-than-usual and drier-than-usual winter for the southern portion of the United States. Although cold snaps and winter storms can happen during a La Nina winter. Overall, the south can expect a more mild winter than usual. 

What Does a La Nina Winter Mean for the Mid Atlantic? 

La Nina can create favorable conditions for a longer-lasting or more intense hurricane season than usual. This year, the Mid Atlantic region can expect a cold and snowy winter closer to the northern portion and warmer and drier conditions closer to the southern part. 

What Does La Nina Mean For the Northeast?

For those in the Northeast, a La Nina winter means cold and wet winter weather. If you’re in the Northeastern states, get ready to bundle up! Winter of 2021 – 2022 will be a cold and snowy one.  

A row of RVs covered in snow in an RV park

Does La Nina Affect Travel? 

La Nina has many effects on travel depending on what region of the US you’re in or are planning to visit. If you’re visiting or staying in the northern portion of the US this winter, prepare for potential weather-related travel delays and complications. 

If you’re planning on spending your winter in the southern states, the return of La Nina can be a cause for celebration. A mild and dry winter season is great for snowbirds, but it’s not so good for worsening drought and wildfire conditions. 

In addition, the “double-dip” La Nina weather pattern means worsening drought conditions for the Southwest which means a higher likelihood of widespread wildfires throughout the fall and during the next wildfire season. 

A smoke could over a mountain with trees

Snowbirds Rejoice: La Nina Is Back for 2021

Planning on heading south for winter? You can expect to have mild temperatures and relatively dry weather for the majority of the winter months. 

But if you’re a northern home-bound snowbird this winter, bundle up for a blustery season! Winter weather is why the term “snowbird” exists in the first place, and this year there will be plenty of it for some areas of the US. 

It looks like popular RVing destinations will have beautiful weather for the upcoming season, so whether you’re planning to head to Arizona, Florida, or any other southern state, the odds are in your favor. 

Best Places in the US for RVers During a La Nina Winter

In the winter months, the most popular states for RVers are Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Texas, and Southern California. 

So what does a La Nina winter mean for these states? 

Florida: If you’re planning to head to Florida, you can expect winter temps to remain above 70 degrees for the most part. 

Arizona: La Nina is expected to bring a dry winter to Arizona this year, with warm temps lingering throughout the winter months. 

New Mexico: All the southern states are expected to have up to 40% lower than average precipitation. Higher elevations of the state may still see some chilly and wet weather. 

Southern Texas: This area is also expected to see warmer and drier weather this winter. Exceptions can always occur during a La Nina winter, like the “Texas Freeze” storm in February of 2021. 

Southern California: the drought in the Southwest is expected to be worsened by this year’s La Nina weather pattern. Southern California can expect a drier and warmer than the average winter season. 

A row of RVs in a campground overlooking rock formations in the desert

Preparing for a Busy Winter Travel Season

With warm and sunny weather (for the most part) in the southern region of the US this winter, we can expect a busy winter travel season for both seasoned and newbie RVers alike. 

Desirable winter temperatures combined with the increase in interest in RVing due to COVID may very well overload popular destinations with travelers. Here’s how you can prepare. 

Plan In Advance

If you want to be in a particular place this winter, it’s time to start booking your campgrounds. Campgrounds are likely to book up quickly in the southern states, especially in popular tourist destinations and around National Parks

Have a Backup Plan

There’s just no telling how overloaded the campground and tourist infrastructure will be this winter. Be sure to have a backup plan for places to stay and things to do. The increase in tourism combined with the current labor crisis might not positively affect tourist destinations in smaller towns and areas. 

Learn to Boondock

The best way to ensure you get a fantastic campsite in the south this winter is to learn to boondock. There are millions of acres of public land in the Southwest for boondocking this winter, and you should take advantage! There’s just nothing like a winter desert sunset at a remote, free campsite. 

An RV and a truck boondocking in the desert with mountains in the background

Staying North? Prepare for Cold and Ice

Now is the time to stock up on things like ice salt, tire chains, and anything else you may need for a cold winter season. If you’re staying stationary in an RV this winter, consider skirting it. Get your emergency supplies together in case of potential power outages, and be mindful that the weather may thwart travel plans. 

Prepare for a Busy La Nina Winter Season

Start planning now to prepare for the potentially busy upcoming La Nina winter season. And if you have any trips planned for the northern parts of the US, prepare yourself for adverse weather conditions and make sure you have a backup plan!

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