A view of the Runge reservoir in the town of Runge, some 60 km (37 miles) north of Santiago, Chile on Feb. 3, 2012. Heavy droughts, a result of the La Niña weather front, hit farms and put reservoirs and underground waters at record low levels. Reuters

The phenomenon known as La Niña is here, according to weather forecasters, and it could be present all winter.

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, released Thursday, suggested that the weather-changing phenomenon could last through February. According to the report, conditions were first seen in October.

La Niña could affect weather patterns around the world. Its counterpart is El Niño.

The name is Spanish for “The Little Girl” and is used to describe an event in which sea surface temperatures cool along the east-central and central equatorial Pacific. In turn, El Niño, Spanish for “The Little Boy,” describes the flipside of the phenomenon where the central and equatorial Pacific waters get warmer. The two events are defined by Live Science as “climate cycles.”

When examined together, the duo comprise the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

La Niña typically brings wetter winter conditions to the northern tier of the U.S. and drier and warmer winter conditions to the southern tier, according to the Weather Channel. The NOAA report predicted that La Niña conditions have a 55 percent chance of extending through February, an average of three months. The NOAA also predicted that conditions would be “weak” December through February.

Drier weather is typically expected in the southeast and southwest areas, while more northern areas like the Pacific Northwest could be in for a wetter winter, according to the Weather Channel. La Niña conditions more or less dictate extreme contrasts in winter precipitation and temperatures: Above-average temperatures are to be expected in the southern tiers of the U.S., while below-average temps are expected in the northern part.

It’s typical for La Niña to follow an El Niño, the Weather Channel reports. Last winter saw one of the “strongest El Niño events on record.”