Climate and Drought Outlook for the United States

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Jordan Skipwith

Water Resources Planner

The December 2020 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) update indicated that overall, the coupled ocean-atmosphere system indicates the continuation of La Niña. Over the next few months, La Niña is likely to continue through the winter 2020-2021 (~95% chance during January through March) and into spring 2021 (~50% chance during April through June) in the Northern Hemisphere. To read more, click here.

 

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 2020 three-month outlook (from December through March) forecasts warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S. and cooler, wetter conditions in the northern U.S. due to an ongoing La Niña. The majority of the county is forecasted to experience above-normal temperatures, with the exception of areas in the Northwest, northern Great Plains, and Upper Midwest. Areas in the Southwest and South are projected to have the highest probability (50 to 70 percent) of above-normal temperatures over the next three months. Conversely, areas in the Pacific Northwest and southern Alaska are projected to have the highest probability (50 to 60 percent) of below-normal temperatures. To view NOAA CPC updates, click here.

This map depicts the locations of below, near, or above normal temperatures during the three-month period of December 2020 through March 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center).

The NOAA CPC three-month outlook forecasts above-normal precipitation (ranging from 33 to 60 percent probability) across the northern tier of the contiguous U.S., extending from the Northwest across the northern Great Plains and Midwest to the Northeast, as well as in northern Alaska. In contrast, below-normal precipitation (ranging from 33 to 70 percent probability) is projected across the southern tier of the contiguous U.S. and southern Alaska. The greatest chance for below-normal precipitation (60 to 70 percent) is forecasted in portions of southern Arizona, New Mexico, southwest Texas, northern Florida, and southern Georgia. 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). To learn about the climate projected for this upcoming winter, read NOAA’s U.S. Winter Outlook Release here. To view an interactive map of NOAA’s Seasonal Climate Outlook, click here.

This map depicts the locations of below, near, or above precipitation during the three-month period of December 2020 through March 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s 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.