NOAA Forecasts a Warmer Than "Normal" Winter for Several Parts of the United States

NOAA Forecasts a Warmer Than “Normal” Winter For Several Parts Of The United States

Though verbalized as a contradiction in terms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a warmer-than-average winter for various parts of the United States.

Among the reasons for this analysis, the meteorological agency explained that it is due to climate change and the influence of the La Niña phenomenon that took place for the second consecutive year.

“This is a pattern (above-average temperatures) that generally occurs in La Niña winters. La Niña is expected to continue throughout the winter and weaken into spring, ”highlighted meteorologist Gabriel Lojero, who works at the National Meteorological Service (SNM) in San Juan.

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NOAA estimated the probability that the phenomenon will continue throughout the winter (December-February) at 90% and approximately 50% for it to continue until March.

In short, some states have a 33% to 50% chance of experiencing temperatures above average (“normal”). This forecast applies to the entire southern and central region of the United States, as well as the entire east coast north to the state of Maine.

The agency noted, at the time, that its analysis considers temperatures below the average for the northwestern United States. In that region, some sectors have a 33% to 40% probability of experiencing colder temperatures.

Forecast of anomalies in temperatures during the winter 2021-2022 in the United States. (NOAA)

The difference in the forecast between this year and the previous one, in terms of temperatures, is barely 5% to 10%.

However, although that percentage would seem low, this year the forecast considers the new decade of 2011-2020 that added NOAA to its climatological record. During those ten years the agency registered an increase in heat. The increase in temperatures was 0.9-1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NOAA’s Center for Climate Prediction (CPC).

The climatological records used by the agency to estimate percentages and compare with the “normal” figures consider a period of 30 previous years and are updated every 10 years. Therefore, the climatological record for this next decade extends from 1991 to 2020.

“With La Niña you will see various patterns. For the southwestern United States with La Niña, it is expected to be drier and warmer than normal. But what are the northwestern states of the United States, like Washington, Oregon … they are expected to have a rainier winter than normal, ”explained Lojero.

The hot and dry pattern for the Southwest implies that states in that area will continue under the severe drought they have been experiencing for the past several years.

However, the dry and warm pattern will not only be concentrated in the southwestern United States, but will also extend into the south-central and southeast, including Florida.

“This is a problem because they (the south-southwest states) have been dealing with quite a severe drought in recent years. Unfortunately, for those states that really need rain, this is not good news, ”said Lojero.

The forecast states that in the southern half the probability percentage for precipitation to be below normal ranges from 40% to 60%.

{Forecast of precipitation anomalies for winter 2021-2022 in the United States.{Forecast of precipitation anomalies for winter 2021-2022 in the United States. (NOAA)

On the other hand, the meteorologist stressed that the northeast of the nation will also see patterns of temperatures that could be warmer than average, but “that does not mean that cold waves do not occur.”

“Just because the forecast says it will be warmer does not mean that cold waves will not occur. They can occur and winter storms can also develop ”, warned the expert.

NOAA warned that its forecast resulted from the analysis between the climatological record and the projections of the long-term models for the period in question, so there is a margin of error that could mean a different scenario than anticipated.

The agency seeks that the population prepare and consider the risks that these conditions of time would represent for life and property.

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