Last winter - with its droughts, tornado outbreaks, heavy snows,
and floods - was a tough one in different ways for millions of
people. Be prepared for more of the same this year.
Last winter, with its droughts, tornado outbreaks, heavy snows,
and floods was a tough one in different ways for millions of people.
Be prepared for more of the same this winter and into early
spring, say forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
The agency's seasonal outlook for the coming winter calls for
cooler-than-normal temperatures up and down the West Coast and
across the northern tier from the Pacific Northwest through the
Great Lakes Region. The southern tier is expected to see warmer-
than-normal temperatures from the eastern half of Arizona though
More challenging for the already parched southern tier is the
precipitation outlook. From southern California to the southern
Great Plains and into the Southeast US, the southern half of the
country is expected to be drier than normal, which would reinforce
an already devastating drought centered on Texas and into New
Mexico, Oklahoma, and spilling into neighboring states.
Ninety-one percent of Texas, 87 percent of Oklahoma, and 63
percent of New Mexico are experiencing either extreme or exceptional
drought conditions - the designations given the two most-severe
rankings, according to David Brown, climate services director at the
National Weather Service's southern regional headquarters in Ft.
For the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, sections of southeast
Texas saw rainfall totals up to 30 inches below normal, he says. The
water level in Lake Travis, a popular recreation spot northwest of
Austin, is 30 feet below normal.
Along with the exceptional drought and high temperatures
throughout the summer texas lost more than 3.5 million acres to
wildfires this year.
"It would take upwards of 10 or 15 inches of rain in many areas
to make an appreciable improvement in the drought situation," he
says. Given the outlook for this winter, "the likelihood of seeing
that kind of relief here in the southern plains is pretty low."
Forecasters attribute the general trends expected for
temperatures and precipitation to La Nina, one half of a cyclical
shift in sea temperatures and atmospheric pressure across the
tropical Pacific. El Nino forms the other half.
Under La Nina conditions, warm surface waters in the tropical
Pacific migrate west, allowing cold water from deep in the eastern
Pacific to reach the surface along the west coast of Central and
South America and fill in behind the departing warm water. …