Climate and Drought Outlook for the United States

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Jordan Skipwith

Water Resources Planner

The February 2021 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) update indicated that overall, the coupled ocean-atmosphere system is consistent with the ongoing La Niña. Over the next few months, there is a likely chance (~60 percent) that La Niña will transition to ENSO-Neutral during spring 2021 (April to June) in the Northern Hemisphere. To read more, click here.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) one-month outlook for March 2021 forecasts above-normal temperatures across much of the continental United States (CONUS), including the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South, and Southwest. Areas in the Southwest and Southeast are projected to have the highest chance (50 to 60 percent probability) of above-normal temperatures over the next month. Meanwhile, regions of the Northwest and southern Alaska are projected to experience below-normal temperatures, with probabilities ranging from 33 to 50 percent. View NOAA CPC outlook updates

One-Month Outlook Temperature Probability - March 2021

This map depicts the probability of below, near, or above normal temperatures during the one-month period of March 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center).

The NOAA CPC one-month outlook forecasts above-normal precipitation, with probabilities ranging from 33 to 50 percent, across parts of the Northeast, Midwest, northern Mountain West, and northwest Alaska. In contrast, below-normal precipitation is projected across portions of the Southeast, South, southern Great Plains, Southwest, and southeast Alaska. The greatest chance of below-normal precipitation (50 to 60 percent probability) is forecasted in adjacent areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas. The lack of precipitation in these areas is projected to trigger further development or intensification of drought conditions (see the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook below). View an interactive map of NOAA’s Seasonal Climate Outlook

One-Month Outlook Precipitation Probability - March 2021

This map depicts the probability of below, near, or above normal precipitation during the one-month period of March 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center).

According to the NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, covering February through May 2021, existing drought conditions are expected to persist across the majority of the western half of the CONUS, as well as areas in the U.S. West North Central and southern states. Further drought development is expected to occur in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida. It is projected that the rest of the areas previously under drought, notably areas in the Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast, will either improve or drought conditions will be alleviated entirely. View the latest NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook map

US Seasonal Drought Outlook March 2021

This map depicts a nationwide outlook of seasonal drought during the period of February 2021 through May 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center).

The links below will direct you to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, which includes information on ENSO, climate, and drought outlooks, as well as other forecasts and models.

Recommended Sites

Additional Information and Data

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Jordan Skipwith, EIT, CFM, is a Water Resources Planner in our Houston office.