The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and their Climate Prediction Center (CPC) unveiled their outlook today for the upcoming winter season, projecting how mild/cool and wet/dry the period of December 2021 through February 2022 will be. The Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month, with the next update out on November 19.
“Consistent with typical La Nina conditions during winter months, we anticipate below-normal temperatures along portions of the northern tier of the U.S. while much of the South experiences above-normal temperatures,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The Southwest will certainly remain a region of concern as we anticipate below-normal precipitation where drought conditions continue in most areas.”
The terms La Nina and El Nino refer to a phenomena in which waters of the equatorial Pacific become unusually cool or warm.
“The Pacific is the heat engine of the climate system,” said Amy Clement, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The school is located on Virginia Key adjacent to Miami, Florida. “Imagine dropping a pebble in a pond and is sends out ripples,” she says, relating to how what happens in the Pacific can impact global weather patterns. “The pebbles are these giant convective clouds that have all kinds of weather associated with them. They send the ripples throughout the global atmosphere.”
With La Nina conditions forecast, NOAA’s outlook is very similar to last year’s outlook. Specifically, NOAA expects that the southern half and east coast of the U.S. Mainland, Hawaii, and western and northern Alaska will likely see warmer than normal temperatures during December, January, and February. The Pacific northwest and southeastern Alaska are likely to see cooler than normal conditions during this period.
According to NOAA, the areas expecting warmer conditions will likely see drier ones, with the exception being Hawaii. The southern half of the United States is expected to be drier than normal, with the southernmost states most likely to be dry. Meanwhile, the Northern Plains and the Great Lakes regions are expected to see wetter than normal conditions along with Hawaii and western Alaska.