La Nina conditions affecting Galapagos

The U.S.  National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA - (U.S. tax dollars at work - thank you) is predicting peak "La Niña" conditions in December 2011 / January 2012, after which they are expected to taper off.  What does that mean for Galapagos bound adventurers?  Typically, La Niña in Galapagos is characterized by cooler than usual water temperatures, and a drier climate.   Normally we expect water temperatures to be at their warmest from about January to April - though these should still be the warmest of the year, they will likely be a little cooler.   Those of you already inclined to use a wetsuit might want to go ahead with it.

January - April is also considered the wet season, for the occasional tropical downpours.  These rains trigger the "Galapagos spring" in the plant community, resulting in the sprouting of leaves in the trees.   During a "La Niña", if the rains fail, the leaves don't come out so well, resulting in a winter like landscape of leafless trees in some parts.

The picture below (credit to NOAA) reflects surface water temperatures in the Pacific.  It indicates that water temperatures in Galapagos are between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Farenheit) below normal for this time of year.  As November waters are usually at their chilliest, anyone contemplating a swim in the islands in the next few weeks will likely appreciate a wetsuit.


La Niño