La Niña, the opposite of El Niño, has officially begun.

The Climate Prediction Center says this year's La Niña is on the weak side, but it should still continue through the winter. The La Niña pattern -- a cooling of temperatures in the equatorial Pacific ocean -- affects the large-scale weather pattern in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

11Alive's StormTracker meteorologists are reporting that this will be the second consecutive La Niña winter. Last year's episode was unusually brief; it formed in November and was gone by February. North Georgia typically experiences warmer-than-average temperatures and drier-than-average conditions during a La Niña winter.

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This does not mean that we won't see periods of extreme cold or wet weather develop from time to time during the next three months. For example this weekend, we will be unseasonably cold and wet with a chance for freezing drizzle in the North Georgia mountains! However, when we look at the overall numbers at the end of winter, we expect to see temperatures to have averaged a bit above usual and for the rainfall numbers to be below average.