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Weather Wise

published: September 4th 2020
by: Brian Bledsoe

A look at current sea surface temperature anomalies show still plenty of heat content globally, but also the colder than average (La Niña) signal across the equatorial Pacific. As of Aug.13th, the Climate Prediction Center had the chance for La Niña development this fall at 60% and the chance it continues through winter at 55%. This outlook continues to fall well in line with what we've been discussing here since last winter. 


    Most models agree that we'll see a weak La Niña develop this fall. Current conditions in the NINO3.4 region is at approximate -0.5C which is just borderline Niña conditions, whereas a month ago we were in neutral conditions. 


    As I’ve been discussing with many of you, 2013 continues to be an analog year that intrigues me. That year continues to be high on the list of potential analogs, as well as some others, for the upcoming winter. Below is a look at our current set of five analog years and what they would indicate we could see for precipitation and temperatures from October through March 2020/2021. 
    For temperatures, a warm Southwest and cold for the Northern Plains are the strongest indications. For most of Texas and the Gulf Coast Region,  this analog set has temperatures near average, with far western and southern Texas running above average. 


    The precipitation look has a pretty Niña feel to it – wetter than average across the north, and drier than average for the south. The Southern Plains, including Texas, are much drier than average. 


    Probably not surprisingly, none of the seasonal models can find any colder than average temperatures in the long range. Here's a look at the CFS seasonal forecast (Nov-Dec-Jan left, Dec-Jan-Feb right). Warmer than average across the board. 


    This actually looks a lot like the European seasonal forecast through February: 


    So, are the models or our early analogs right? Hard to say. What we do see is some indication that IF anywhere will trend toward cool in the models, it'll be the northern tier, fitting our analogs, and most seasonal models are in decent agreement on their SST forecasts, which would indicate some cooler than average areas across the CONUS this winter, even if the models themselves can't see it. That said, perhaps it's an indication that our current analogs are overdone, at least on the extend of the "near average" as you head further south across the U.S. 


    As for precipitation, the Euro remains pretty darn dry for the next several months before gradually becoming wetter as the winter progresses. We don't hate this idea. It also is in decent agreement with a dry south-central U.S., and wetter across the north if anywhere.
    One interesting consideration when looking at how dry the seasonal modal above is for Sep-Oct-Nov is that its mid-range model output is wetter for many of the same areas and it takes us through Oct. 9th. So, do we dry out considerably for the latter half of October and November? Perhaps. This is no doubt something I will be tracking and updating you on in the coming weeks.

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