La Niña to bring drought to southern US


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USA TODAY

It won’t be long until we’re talking wool hats, ice storms and snowmen. How bad will your weather be this winter? 

If you hate the cold, there’s good news for some of you: Federal forecasters said Thursday that much of the nation’s southern tier and the East Coast should see warmer-than-average temperatures this winter. As well, most of the southern half of the U.S. – all the way from central California to the Carolinas – should also see less rain and snow than usual. 

However, the lack of precipitation for the southern tier of the country does not bode well for the drought, which may end up being the main weather story of the winter, especially in the already-parched Southwest, experts said.

“With a La Niña climate pattern in place, southern parts of the U.S. may experience expanded and intensifying drought during the winter months ahead,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that issued the forecast, which covers the months of December, January and February.

The La Niña climate pattern – a natural cycle marked by cooler-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean – is one of the main drivers of weather in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

“With La Niña well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a statement.

La Niña is the opposite pattern of the more well-known El Niño, which features warmer-than-average ocean water in the central Pacific Ocean. 

Two parts of the country that should see below-normal temperatures this winter are the northern Plains and the Pacific Northwest, NOAA said. Those areas, along with the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley, should also see more rain and snow than usual.

This winter forecast does not specify how much precipitation will fall as rain, snow or ice, only that more or less is likely overall. Snow forecasts depend upon the strength and track of winter storms, which generally cannot be predicted more than a week in advance, the center said.

Still, Halpert…



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