This week, the Long Beach, California-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its winter climate predictions forecasting a dry, hot January, February and March for Southern California.
These months are usually the wettest for the Golden State, which will soon be entering its sixth year of a crippling drought.
— NOAA (@NOAA) October 20, 2016
“To the southern third of the state, we slightly favor a drier-than-average winter,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told Southern California Public Radio. “So obviously not what folks in California are looking for,” Halpert added.
Weather service drought expert David Miskus told the Los Angeles Times: “It’s probably going to take a couple of wet winters in a row to put a big dent into this drought now.” He added that it will take “many, many years and it’s got to be above normal precipitation.”
The NOAA posted a visual graphic of the various levels of drought that could plague Southern California:
— NOAA NCEI Climate (@NOAANCEIclimate) October 20, 2016
However, the NOAA report also notes that “drought improvement is anticipated in northern California, the northern Rockies, the northern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley.” That is thanks in large part to La Niña, which SCPR describes as a “phenomenon marked by the cooling of water in the equatorial Pacific” and which acts as the flip side of the more widely known El Niño storms.
La Niña brings with it the possibility of heavy above-average snowfall in Northern California and specifically on the Sierra mountain range.
The NOAA report also predicts that in addition to warner and drier conditions than normal in the Southern parts of the United States, the nation will experience wetter and colder than normal conditions in its northern parts.
For example, Judah Cohen of Atmospheric and Environmental Research, whose research is reportedly funded by the National Science Foundation, told the Times that Maine will have a warm winter and predicted a warm Southwest. He reportedly also forecast an extremely cold winter for the eastern and middle two-thirds of the nation.
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