NOAA releases 2020-21 Winter Outlook; Update on Drought

Weather Blog

A city snowplow helps clear roads north of downtown Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. The storm has already killed at least one person and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel. (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released their 2020-2021 Winter Outlook last week.

Almost the entire southern half of the U.S. is forecasting below normal precipitation amounts which could lead to a drought in many locations, while parts of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains and Great Lakes region are expected to see above average precipitation.

It is anticipated The Northeast and Central U.S. also see average precipitation amounts, typically found in a La Nina pattern.

In terms of temperatures, above average stretches from Maine, down to Florida and west to California.

The different shadings of orange and red indicate the likelihood of seeing above average temperatures.

The highest probability is found across southwest Texas and parts of New Mexico, while the lowest can be found in the strip that goes through places like Denver and Pittsburgh.

Areas of the Pacific Northwest is expected to see a fair share of wintry weather with above average precipitation and below average temperatures. This recipe spells lots of opportunity for snowfall and bodes well for snowboarding and skiing in the mountainous areas.

In the northeast and in particular Rhode Island, the drought is improving, but nonetheless we are still seeing severe to extreme drought conditions across much of the area.

Over the past seven to 10 days, we’ve seen two beneficial rainstorms which have helped these results, however we need several more chances.

Our seven day forecast keeps us fairly dry through the weekend, but does introduce chances for showers during the middle of next week.

Below is the Winter 2020 U.S. Drought Outlook provided by NOAA.

Locally, the good news is drought conditions are expected to improve through the winter months.

The bad news is the entire central plains and desert southwest are expected to see drought conditions continue or potentially even worsen.

Other areas across Texas, Oklahoma, and even parts of Florida could see drought conditions develop.

Several weeks ago, NOAA announced that La Nina conditions were found in the Pacific Ocean.

This occurs when the Pacific Ocean undergoes cooling of the ocean water (or ocean temperatures decrease).

In terms of the atmosphere, high pressure dominates over the Pacific and essentially remains stationary which means the jet stream will be well north and won’t have many chances to wiggle south.

The picture above explains this well and shows how the jet stream is fairly contained across the northern tier of the country. This keeps the coldest air in Canada and across far northern areas.

With a jet stream so far north, many areas across the south won’t be in the path of storms therefore drier weather is expected which could potentially lead to drought conditions.

Depending upon where the jet stream generally sets up across our area over the winter months will dictate how much snow and cold air we see.

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