SAN FRANCISCO -- The southwestern US will continue to struggle through drought conditions this winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Thursday in its outlook for the coming winter.
Meanwhile, a warmer and drier-than-normal winter is forecast for the nation's southern region, along with a wetter-than-normal winter for the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, the agency said.
In all, cooler and wetter conditions are forecast across portions of the northern tier of the country, with warmer and drier conditions for much of the southern tier -- in line with a typical La Niña weather pattern.
The Southwest may suffer the most from this forecast. The area is drought-stricken and most likely won't get relief through the winter.
More than 90% of the West is in drought conditions, and more than half of the region is in extreme or exceptional drought. California has just faced its driest year in nearly a century as the state continues a statewide drought emergency.
The Southwest will not only be dry, it will also continue to be warmer. In fact, the entire southern half of the country -- Midwest, Ohio Valley and Eastern Seaboard -- is forecast to have a warmer-than-average winter.
The only place that is forecast to have a cooler-than-normal winter is the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies -- pretty much the same area that is expected to have a wetter-than-normal winter.
"In the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, the Upper Midwest and Hawaii should likely see drought improvement," said Jon Gottschalck with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
A wetter-than-normal season is forecast for portions of the Midwest, Ohio Valley and New England, as well, NOAA said.
La Niña could impact the drought "significantly," NOAA said.
"There tends to be below-normal precipitation along the southern tier of the US, and with that being the expectation for what we are favoring in the outlook, we do expect the drought to persist along many places in the Southwest," Gottschalck said.
Even with a stronger monsoon season in the Southwest, that wasn't enough to quell the drought.
But remember: This is a seasonal outlook -- not the day-to-day forecast. There will be extreme variability in the day-to-day forecast, including extremely cold days in the South, as well as drier weeks in the North.
NOAA's forecast looks at the season as a whole. And after all, it's just a forecast -- nothing is guaranteed.
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