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Drought To Persist or Intensify

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WEATHER PATTERN & DROUGHT OUTLOOK

Last November I made an extended winter forecast taking an in-depth look at the teleconnections that influence the Pacific Northwest including the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Our weather pattern included a neutral ENSO and cool phase (negative) of the PDO, which history has shown will bring southern Oregon and northern California a cooler and drier than average winter, this basically keeps a blocking high pressure ridge over the east Pacific. For a more in-depth discussion on these teleconnections and my seasonal forecast look for the “Extended Winter Forecast” on the weather homepage.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor was released today increasing southern Oregon and northern California’s drought conditions to ‘Severe’ while southern and central California’s ‘Extreme’ drought has spread into northeast California and Nevada. This is no surprise since California and southern Oregon saw the driest year on record in 2013, and 2014 is starting off on a dry note  and could potentially end as the second driest year. Another teleconnection that is a good indicator of precipitation along the west coast besides the ENSO and PDO is the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). Unfortunately even this pattern isn’t changing, with a weak MJO, like we have currently, means  dry conditions. ENSO has been neutral and is forecast to stay neutral…this keeps us dry, the PDO has been negative (cool-phase) and is forecast to stay in this phase…also keeping us dry. These conditions could stay constant through the Summer which means a persisting to potentially intensifying drought for southern Oregon and northern California.

The latest Climate Prediction Center (CPC) outlook was just released today and they have found California will be drier than average through April along with the rest of the Southwest where we need the rain the most! I also think Oregon will join in a drier than average trend through at least mid-Spring. On top of that the CPC is forecasting a warmer than average trend through April for California and Oregon, this means melting already low snow pack and quickly drying any new precipitation we receive. Keep fire safety in mind over the next several months even though we aren’t in fire season.

For more on the Climate Prediction Center Outlook: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

Meteorologist Megan Parry