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El Nino: Wet winter now suggested by NOAA for southwestern U.S.

Green shaded areas represent zones of projected possible above average precipitation from August through October, 2014.
Green shaded areas represent zones of projected possible above average precipitation from August through October, 2014.

There has been talk of El Nino conditions within the scientific community in recent days, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has just released its latest long range outlook, which appears to be supportive.

What may be the beginnings of an El Nino this year are evident as a developing pool of warm water west of equatorial South America. (circled)
Gary London

Beginning around October, if oceanic and atmospheric models verify, above normal amounts of precipitation may begin to develop across the southwestern U.S. in a belt extending from southern California east across the southern tier of states including Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The belt then drops southward, curving along the Gulf coast before rising slightly northward to include Florida and immediately adjacent southeastern states.

On sea surface temperature anomaly charts, an area of warmer than average water has appeared recently immediately west of equatorial south America. This may suggest a developing pool of warm water, which if were to spread westward and increase, might herald a wetter than average winter season in 2014-15 for drought-stricken areas of the California and the West.

It should be noted, however, that a very similar, nearly identical long-range forecast last year netted no results; failing completely to foresee what turned out to be the driest year ever in the history of Los Angeles, California.

While of course, it is far too early to tell with any accuracy, the statistical odds are significantly in favor of a wet winter weather pattern this year for the aforementioned areas, due in part to the absence of any sustained wet pattern over the last several years.

The pattern of extreme dryness, above normal temperatures and gusty Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles has subsided at the present time. Short and medium range models have a moderately strong upper level disturbance dropping into northern California early next week, with resultant cool temperatures, onshore flow and associated marine layer cloudiness and a chance of drizzle in Los Angeles and surrounding areas both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Winds are likely to increase across Southland mountain and desert areas as surface pressure gradients tighten in conjunction with this disturbance.

Temperatures should warm again by late next week as high pressure returns. More extreme heat is not expected at this time.

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