Fall drought forecast: NOAA sees the same fall pattern ‘just about everywhere’

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(NEXSTAR) – Residents of the western United States are getting used to ending summer with smoke-filled skies and shrinking reservoirs, but new projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offer little relief in early fall.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released new maps Thursday providing a temperature and precipitation outlook for the weeks and months ahead. Projections show a high likelihood of warmer and dry conditions than normal across most of the southwest, stretching north to the Canadian border.

Researchers from NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System say we may see a few signs of improvement along the Oregon and Washington coast, and surrounding Illinois and Wisconsin, but most of the nation’s hardest-hit drought zones won’t get relief.


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“But the big picture: Drought is expected to persist through November just about everywhere,” tweeted the NIDIS team. The drought could even expand into the Central Plains region.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 98% of the West is in a drought. About 25% of the region is in the worst category: exceptional drought.


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The outlook map above shows existing drought conditions locked in over roughly a third of the continental U.S. That means little to no improvement for more than a dozen states with current exceptional drought conditions.

Current federal Drought Monitor map (NOAA)

In recent weeks, NOAA forecasters have expressed increased confidence in the formation of a La Niña weather pattern for late fall into winter.

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La Niña is the name given to a pattern of colder-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The result is a change in expected seasonal conditions, often drying out the southern states and providing a soaking along a northern jetstream.

(NOAA image)

Such a pattern could bring relief to the Pacific Northwest but likely wouldn’t help parched states along the southern border as fall turns to winter.

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