TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — There are small signs that hint we may be in for a large-scale weather pattern change soon, from the La Niña pattern to the El Niño pattern.

Long-range forecast models show that we might show strong signs of El Niño by the summer.

El Niño is defined by unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator and light to nonexistent trade winds. For our area, an El Niño winter is usually cooler with more rain.

Below is a graph from the National Weather Service of Tampa Bay showing a breakdown of local average monthly temperatures separated by strong La Niña, moderate La Niña, weak La Niña, neutral, weak El Niño, moderate El Niño, and strong El Niño.

Average monthly temperatures for Tampa Bay separated by El Niño and La Niña.

The graph shows warmer temperatures in December and average to below-average temperatures in January, February, and March during strong El Niño.

During weak to moderate El Niño, temperatures were slightly below average for December- March. Strong La Niña generally means below average in December and slightly above average from January through March.

A strong El Niño could mean fewer hurricanes for our area, look at the breakdown of hurricane seasons according to the strength of El Niño vs La Niña from the National Weather Service of Tampa Bay.

Strong El Niño historically means fewer hurricanes.

Below is a graph showing tropical systems per year that made landfall or crossed over southwest and west central Florida, broken down by El Niño vs La Niña.

Tropical systems per year that impacted southwest Florida.

The graph shows that there wasn’t much of a difference between weak El Niño and neutral. The lowest was strong El Niño, followed by weak La Niña.