After a year of dominance, El Niño released its hold on the tropical Pacific in May 2024, according to NOAA’s latest update. El Niño—the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), our planet’s single largest natural source of year-to-year variations in seasonal climate—has been disrupting climate in the tropics and beyond since May 2023, likely contributing to many months of record-high global ocean temperatures, extreme heat stress to coral reefs, drought in the Amazon and Central America, opposing wet and dry precipitation extremes in Africa, low ice cover on the Great Lakes, and record-setting atmospheric rivers on the U.S. West Coast.

That’s a lot of climate upheaval. Is ENSO going to give us some time to idle in neutral (a state in between the warmer and cooler extremes of the El Niño-La Niña cycle) and catch our breaths? Not much, apparently. The tropical Pacific’s climate pendulum appears to be swinging back toward its other extreme: La Niña. In the Pacific, La Niña brings cooler-than-average temperatures in the central-eastern part of the basin, stronger winds both near the surface and at high altitudes, and heavier rain than normal over Indonesia and the rest of the Maritime Continent. The forecasting team thinks there’s a 65 percent chance that La Niña will arrive by July-September.