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article imageNOAA — La Nina will give U.S. mild winter but intensify drought

By Karen Graham     Oct 17, 2020 in Environment
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center released its winter outlook for 2020-2021 Thursday, forecasting that much of the South and Southwest of the U.S. will remain dry this winter, while the northern tier of states will have a wetter than average winter.
`La Nina, Spanish for "little girl," describes decreased sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific. La Nina is the colder sibling of El Nino, or "little boy," which is indicative of warm sea surface temperatures.
Both La Nina and El Nino are part of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. And through ENSO's interaction with the Jet Stream and other atmospheric processes, they can effect weather and climate conditions around the globe, including rainfall, temperatures, and hurricane activity in the United States.
In a press release Thursday, Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said, “winter forecast for the U.S. favors warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the North, thanks in part to an ongoing La Niña.”
Precipitation forecast for Dec-Jan-Feb 2020-21
Precipitation forecast for Dec-Jan-Feb 2020-21
"With La Niña well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year
While the country's northern tier of states, encompassing Oregon and Washington and running along the northern part of the country to Michigan, will see a wet winter, a large southern tier of states that runs coast-to-coast from California to North Carolina, will have a dry winter, It would be fair to say that the rest of the country will see fairly normal conditions.
Halpert also added that with a La Nina cycle present, this usually reduce the odds of large snowstorms on the East Coast. However, the model cannot predict extreme events months ahead of time, reports the Associated Press.
Three month temperature outlook - Dec-Jan-Feb 2020-21
Three month temperature outlook - Dec-Jan-Feb 2020-21
Drought and more of the same
The forecast is predicting above average temperatures for much of the country, with the largest spikes above the average in southern Texas.
The forecast for the South and Southwest is not good - With 47 percent of the continental U.S. blanketed by drought, this means it will only get worse during the months that usually bring relief. The country is currently in its most widespread drought since 2013. This drier, warmer weather includes areas where wildfires are currently burning, like Southern California and Colorado.
Halpert emphasized that there is a "high likelihood" of a worsening drought in the region this winter - and it is directly linked to La Niña
More about la nina, winter outlook 20202021, mild winter, drought conditions, Climate Prediction Center
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