Dry Winter Forecast Adds to Water Worries

Tacy CalliesCalifornia Corner, Water, Weather

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The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is expecting a dry winter in Southern California. Specifically, it says the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is predicted to be neutral into the fall (51% chance for the August–October season), with La Niña potentially emerging during the September–November season and lasting through the 2021–22 winter (66% chance during November–January).

The forecast comes on the heels of the state water board announcement that it would not deliver any water for agriculture or cities this winter.

The El Niño/La Niña weather phenomenon often controls the weather extremes of either drought or floods in California, according to meteorologists.

El Niño occurs when warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific cause changes in atmospheric circulation. These changes affect weather in various parts of the world, tending to bring more rainfall to Central and Southern California. On average, it happens every two to seven years.

La Niña is just the opposite and is a cooler-than-normal Pacific Ocean temperature pattern in the tropics. It brings dry weather to Southern California and happens every two to seven years.

Over the winter, if La Niña follows its normal course, it is expected to cause continued dry conditions in Central and Southern California, as well as the rest of the southern United States. It also usually brings cold weather to the Northern Plains and western and central Canada, as well as a wet winter in the Pacific Northwest.

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Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West