The relationships between U.S. streamflow and La Niña Events

John A. Dracup*, Ercan Kahya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


In an earlier study of the teleconnection between streamflow and the warm (El niño) phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, we found a strong relationship evident in four regions of the United States: the Gulf of Mexico, the Northeast, the North Central, and the Pacific Northwest. In this present study we have examined the same four regions for a relationship between streamflow and the cold (La niña) phase of the Southern Oscillation (SO). Invariably, we found evidence of strong and consistent streamflow responses to La niña events within the study regions. In each of the four regions, the strongest La niña signal occurred at the same time of year as had the El niño signal in their respective years. The sign of the seasonal streamflow anomaly associated with the La niña events is the opposite of that associated with the El niño events. This documents the existence of the biennial tendency related to the SO in the streamflow anomaly, which is expected, since La niña/El niño are opposite phases of the ENSO cycle. Finally, the relationships between streamflow and La niño/El niño were found to be statistically significant, based on the hypergeometric distribution. The results of this study demonstrate coherent, consistent, and significant midlatitude streamflow responses to the tropical SO phenomenon. This confirms the results of previous climatological studies that have examined the extratropical teleconnections from a hydrological and meteorological perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2133-2141
Number of pages9
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994


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