U.S. Winter Outlook: Warmer, drier South with ongoing La Nina

Published 10:11 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

This year La Nina returns for the third consecutive winter, driving warmer-than-average temperatures for the Southwest and along the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard, according to NOAA’s U.S. Winter Outlook released today by the Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service. Starting in December 2022 through February 2023, NOAA predicts drier-than-average conditions across the South with wetter-than-average conditions for areas of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.

“The hardworking forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center produce timely and accurate seasonal outlooks and short-term forecasts year-round,” said Michael Farrar, Ph.D., director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. “NOAA’s new supercomputers are enabling us to develop even better, more detailed forecast capabilities, which we’ll be rolling out in the coming years.”

NOAA forecasters, in collaboration with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), continue to monitor extreme, ongoing drought conditions that have persisted in the Western U.S. since late 2020, as well as parts of the central U.S. where historic low-water conditions are currently present.

“Drought conditions are now present across approximately 59% of the country, but parts of the Western U.S. and southern Great Plains will continue to be the hardest hit this winter,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “With the La Nina climate pattern still in place, drought conditions may also expand to the Gulf Coast.”

Temperature

  • The greatest chance for warmer-than-average conditions are in western Alaska, and the Central Great Basin and Southwest extending through the Southern Plains.
  • Warmer-than-average temperatures are also favored in the Southeastern U.S. and along the Atlantic coast.
  • Below-normal temperatures are favored from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the western Great Lakes and the Alaska Panhandle.

The U.S. Winter Outlook 2022-2023 map for temperature shows the greatest chances for warmer-than-average conditions in western Alaska, and the Central Great Basin and Southwest extending through the Southern Plains. Below normal temperatures are favored from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the western Great Lakes and the Alaska Panhandle.

Precipitation

  • Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.
  • The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are forecast in portions of California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, southern Plains, Gulf Coast and much of the Southeast.
  • The remainder of the U.S. falls into the category of equal chances for below-, near-, or above-average seasonal total precipitation.

The 2022-2023 U.S. Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Drier-than-average conditions are forecast in portions of California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, southern Plains, Gulf Coast and much of the Southeast.

Drought

  • Widespread extreme drought continues to persist across much of the West, the Great Basin, and the central-to-southern Great Plains.
  • Drought is expected to impact the middle and lower Mississippi Valley this winter.
  • Drought development is expected to occur across the South-central and Southeastern U.S., while drought conditions are expected to improve across the Northwestern U.S. over the coming months.

This seasonal U.S. Drought Outlook map for November 2022 through January 2023 predicts persistent widespread drought across much of the West, the Great Basin, and the central-to-southern Great Plains.

About NOAA’s seasonal outlooks

NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average, and how drought conditions are anticipated to change in the months ahead. The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations as snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month. The next update will be available November 17.

Seasonal outlooks help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. Resources such as drought.gov and climate.gov provide comprehensive tools to better understand and plan for climate-driven hazards. Empowering people with actionable forecasts, seasonal predictions and winter weather safety tips is key to NOAA’s effort to build a more Weather– and Climate-Ready Nation.

Climate, weather, and water affect all life on our ocean planet. NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict our changing environment, from the deep sea to outer space, and to manage and conserve America’s coastal and marine resources. See how NOAA science, services, and stewardship benefit your community: Visit noaa.gov for our latest news and features, and join us on social media.