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Western drought to continue: Climate Prediction Center

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Dry conditions likely to persist through February.

If current trends continue, Los Angeles may see one of its driest years on record, according to data from the National Climatic Data Center.

Current information suggests conditions will not improve; this includes both short-term and long-range models.

So far this season, only 5.3 inches of rainfall has been recorded in Los Angeles, putting it on par among the 8 driest years in L.A.'s history.

A number of factors are responsible; the most significant likely being the persistent avoidance of upper level winds to steer Pacific storms more directly into California.

Since the late 1970's west coast rainfall and associated weather patterns have been strongly tied to sea surface temperature trends and anomalies across the Pacific Ocean. Pioneering research by Dr. Jerome Namias at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 1975 at San Diego, California established a positive correlation between atmospheric pressure patterns, west coast precipitation, and sea surface temperatures.

Over the years, this science has been honed, numerous El Nino as well as La Nina weather events were successfully predicted, starting with the first successful anticipation of the end of an extreme Los Angeles area drought occurring in 1975-76.

Prior to this time, it was known that invasions of moist, subtropical air occurred in Los Angeles on an average of one out every four winters.

November and December in southern California are typically punctuated by periods of dry, mild conditions associated with high pressure, surface and aloft. Only in years of L.A.'s most extreme rainfall, have these two months surpassed monthly averages.

Projections of sea surface temperature trends and mid to upper level wind and pressure patterns shows no significant departures from what has been the ongoing pattern for the past two months. This would tend to support the latest assessment from the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center that expects drought conditions to persist or intensify across much of the southwestern U.S., most notably, Nevada and most of California.

The only exception to this might be the far northwestern corner of California, which typically receives rainfall from storms following a track through the Pacific Northwest.

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was the highest on record for any November according to NOAA climate statistics.

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