NOAA: La Niña likely for upcoming winter season – Drought expected to persist in California

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook today, saying that La Nina is expected to influence winter conditions this year. The Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch this month, predicting the climate seasonal weather [fixed, AW] phenomenon is likely to develop in late fall or early winter. La Nina favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S. If La Nina conditions materialize, forecasters say it should be weak and potentially short-lived.

“This climate outlook provides the most likely outcome for the upcoming winter season, but it also provides the public with a good reminder that winter is just up ahead and it’s a good time to prepare for typical winter hazards, such as extreme cold and snowstorms,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Regardless of the outlook, there is always some chance for extreme winter weather, so prepare now for what might come later this winter.”

Mall snowstorm

A snowstorm on Washington’s National Mall in March 2015. NOAA issued its 2016 winter outlook today. (Credit: Eric Druxman )

Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and create nor’easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can affect the number of heavy rain events in the Pacific Northwest.

The 2016 U.S. Winter Outlook (December through February):

Precipitation:

  • Wetter than normal conditions are most likely in the northern Rockies, around the Great Lakes, in Hawaii and in western Alaska
  • Drier than normal conditions are most likely across the entire southern U.S. and southern Alaska.

2016-winter-precip

Temperature:

  • Warmer than normal conditions are most likely across the southern U.S., extending northward through the central Rockies, in Hawaii, in western and northern Alaska and in northern New England.
  • Cooler conditions are most likely across the northern tier from Montana to western Michigan.
  • The rest of the country falls into the “equal chance” category, meaning that there is not a strong enough climate signal in these areas to shift the odds, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation.

2016-winter-temperature

Drought:

  • Drought will likely persist through the winter in most regions currently experiencing drought, including much of California and the Southwest.
  • Drought is expected to persist and spread in the southeastern U.S. and develop in the southern Plains.
  • New England will see a mixed bag, with drought improvement in the western parts and persistence to the east.
  • Drought improvement is anticipated in northern California, the northern Rockies, the northern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley.

This seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.  However, La Nina winters tend to favor above average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies and below average snowfall in the mid-Atlantic.

NOAA produces seasonal outlooks to help communities prepare for what’s likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. Empowering people with actionable forecasts and winter weather tips is key to NOAA’s effort to build a Weather-Ready Nation.

 

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44 thoughts on “NOAA: La Niña likely for upcoming winter season – Drought expected to persist in California

  1. Last time we had a La Nina in 2010-2011, Southern California had a great winter. Northern California is off to a great start this year, with 11 billion gallons of water falling at Lake Tahoe last week nearly filling it to capacity. So far the storm track is solid. Let’s hope it stays that way. Central and Southern California really do need a good winter.

  2. Just a few weeks ago, NOAA issued a statement to the effect that the likelihood of a La Nina this winter was fizzling. Last Spring, it was about a 75% chance, and now it’s supposedly going to be a weak La Nina. We shall see.

    • Yes, that is what I remember. Apparently NOAA operates on the the principle that if you make enough predictions you are always correct. We have been having La Nina like conditions here since about July. I am not sure how the “official” La Nina status relates to reality.

  3. Not sure if it’s a result of La Nina, but here in Colorado Springs, it’s been very dry and mostly warm — some record-setting temperatures this Fall. Just a trace of precipitation. However, our reservoirs are in good shape — water storage is still at above average levels — partly due to people doing more to conserve water, and our locality finishing the Southern Delivery System, to pump water up from the Pueblo Reservoir. The cost of this massive project is paid for by a tiered system in our water bills, based upon usage. This also probably helps cut down water usage, since people have decided to cut down on, or eliminate their lawns, to reduce water bills.

    • I live in Colorado Springs, too. While we had a warm Fall, our summer was cool/comfortable. We only needed AC a handful of days. We also had more rain than normal, and didn’t have to water as often as many years.

  4. One thing people misunderstand about these is that it is not a prediction of how much warmer/cooler, wetter/drier it will be. It is a probability of having that. So, where NOAA has a 33% chance of a warmer winter than normal, there is a 67% chance it will normal winter or a colder winter.

    I personally don’t believe the east coast will be drier than normal. The ocean waters near land are warm, that means more nor’easters. The Great Lakes are warm too, which means more lake effect snow as it will take longer to ice over. Not every La Nina means a drier and warmer winter.

    • alex,

      “One thing people misunderstand about these is that it is not a prediction of how much warmer/cooler, wetter/drier it will be. It is a probability of having that.”

      Statements about the probabilities are predictions . . I fear we are letting the CAGW clan erode our language, in their attempts to justify their fruitless . . predictions ; )

  5. Most of California is in the “equal chances” zone. This jibes with current reality on the ground. We are already having rainy season systems. Rain line for these appears to be ~ 36 or 37 North latitude. So, SoCal may end up dry while Central Cal is normal and NorCal slightly above. I call this a “Wet” La Nina (meaning, NorCal ends up with the typical Pac NW pattern instead of the typical SW US pattern vis a vis La NIna).

  6. Sigh,
    In August they said “neutral conditions”,
    …..and stopped with the PPT presentations.
    Now they say “La Nina, sort of”
    …and “it is XX% chance”.

    We pay these guys salary, benefits, retirement, etc?
    I guess they are the “once hired, can’t be fired if they CYA”.

    • “We pay these guys salary, benefits, retirement, etc?
      I guess”

      I take it you don’t have a job trying to forecast future events.
      If everyone who did were to be sacked because that future event either did not happen as forecast or the forecast was amended on forthcoming newer data, err, then there would be no forecasters.

      So could you take your bizarre logic and never return with it.
      (Speaking as someone who did have to wrestle with forecasting the weather).

      • When trying to manage people,
        it is critical that that they be rewarded for “trying”.

        There are ways to present things that invite evaluation and comment.
        then there is hubris that “we know more than you and we are the best”
        I have noticed that NOAA seems to have a lot of hubris.

  7. I have a lot of landscaping plans around the house for the non growing season so I’ll welcome a drier and warmer Texas winter for that reason.
    Whether that happens we will see.

  8. ” Drought will likely persist through the winter in most regions currently experiencing drought, including much of California and the Southwest.
    Drought is expected to persist and spread in the southeastern U.S. and develop in the southern Plains.”

    At least it won’t be a flash drought. Although I suppose flash droughting may appear from time to time.

  9. They must have re-activated their La Nina watch. Gosh, I remember saying this like a month ago.

    Must have gotten all the appropriate headlines out.

  10. The winter will be determined not only if La Nina occurs but it’s characteristics. For example it’s center of location where it is strongest.

    In addition it is the ESNO /AO combination which determines the winter , and with low solar activity present chances are that the AO will be negative rather then positive on balance for this winter which will favor a cold winter especially if La Nina is weak.

    So their forecast just like their climate outlook tries to factor in just one climatic variable to come up with a forecast which is why it is useless.

    The entire ocean surface temperatures globally also have to be evaluated in totality, along with N.H snow coverage and cloud coverage to get handle on the upcoming winter.

  11. If the NOAA forecast is of similar quality to Australia’s BOM forecast, then a good guide to the season would be to imagine the opposite. Uncertainty is guaranteed.

  12. “Show me your homework, NOAA” … or this is just more weather forecasting phrenology (‘head bump’ location and size examination) …

    Is there a basis for their claims?

    WE have had cold fronts here in Texas ALL this last spring, *summer* and now fall. So, WHAT is going to change that, i.e., WHAT is changing such that cold fronts will cease being as frequently into Texas, OR as far south as Texas?

  13. La Nina will sometimes bring flooding to CA. I don’t know how they can flatly say it wont. I seem to remember the rivers swelled, over ran the poop plant and polluted the beaches in San Diego during an La Nina. We shall see.

    • > La Nina will sometimes bring flooding to CA. I don’t know how they can flatly say it wont.

      I don’t see where they flatly said that it won’t. E.g.:

      “This climate outlook provides the most likely outcome for the upcoming winter season, but it also provides the public with a good reminder that winter is just up ahead and it’s a good time to prepare for typical winter hazards, such as extreme cold and snowstorms,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Regardless of the outlook, there is always some chance for extreme winter weather, so prepare now for what might come later this winter.”

      And:

      Drier than normal conditions are most likely across the entire southern U.S. and southern Alaska.

      There’s a difference between “most likely” and “absolutely certain”.

      > I seem to remember the rivers swelled, over ran the poop plant and polluted the beaches in San Diego during an La Nina.

      Weather will do that. Try this:

      See also the caveats listed on main page:

      Important points from these diagrams:
      * Not every El Niño produces the same effect.
      * La Niña has a more consistent signal, in general, than El Niño.
      * The relations are not perfect, other things are happening in the climate system.
      * The 1982/83 El Niño does not fit in with the other points in some locations. Patterns for large El Niños may differ in some ways from typical El Niño patterns.
      * The relationship is lagged. Best associations are found between summer/autumn SOI and the following winter climate, and the following spring and summer streamflow runoff.

  14. First NOAA had to in-predict the LaNina because everyone in the skeptic community was watching it come, now the have come back around and so oops it does look like LaNina. Lost most respect for them.

  15. In the lower stratosphere shows the influence of the polar vortex to Australia and the Pacific. The jet stream will come down far north.

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