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Climate Prediction Center


November 2008 - January 2009


Latest Seasonal Assessment - In the Southeast, streams from northern Georgia to southwestern Virginia rapidly receded following heavy rains during the first half of October. The lack of sustained recovery in stream flows reflects the intensity and duration of the long-term drought. The seasonal forecast indicates that the drought will be ongoing for the next several months, but some additional improvement is expected during the second half of October, if not beyond. In contrast, with the official November-January outlook indicating the odds tilting toward below-normal rainfall south and east of the Tennessee Valley, the drought outlook shows little change in conditions for central and southern parts of Georgia and South Carolina, and even a good chance for drought expansion into Florida. Elsewhere, improvement is on tap for northeast North Carolina, northern Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and southeast Colorado into western Oklahoma. In Texas, the odds favor below-normal rainfall during November-January over south-central areas, resulting in continued drought. Coastal rains during the first few days of the forecast period in October support improvement over southeastern parts of the drought area. In the northern Plains, some precipitation is likely during the next 2 weeks and beyond over western North Dakota, but little overall change in drought status is expected. In the West, Pacific storms should ease drought in northern and central California, especially in the north. In Hawaii, drought should largely persist.

Discussion for the Seasonal Drought Outlook

Tools used in the Drought Outlook included the official precipitation outlook for November-January, various medium- and short-range forecasts and models such as the 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts, the soil moisture tools based on the GFS model and the Constructed Analogue on Soil (CAS) moisture, and climatology.

The outlook for the Southeast reversed the pattern shown in the previous outlook, with some improvement now in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and persistence to the south. This results from the November-January CPC precipitation outlook showing the odds tilting dry south and east of Tennessee, with equal chances wet or dry to the north. Above-normal rains forecast for the 6-10 and week 2 periods during the last half of October favor at least some improvement for the Kentucky and Tennessee area, with the most recent GFS model runs on October 15 showing heavy rains later in the month into central and southern Georgia. River forecasts based on climatology suggest that significant improvement in the Ohio Valley is not likely over the next 90 days, so no areas of straight improvement are depicted. To the south, the Outlook depiction tried to strike a balance between a wetter medium-range forecast and a drier long-range forecast. Climatology and the seasonal rainfall forecast support the idea of drought expansion into northern Florida. Near-drought conditions already exist in the Tampa area.
Confidence: Moderate

Two-week forecasts suggest normal to above-normal rains should ease drought in Pennsylvania and coastal North Carolina, so improvement is shown for both of these small areas.
Confidence: Moderate

The dry seasonal forecast is the driving force behind the persistence forecast for the Texas drought, but the first few days of the period offer considerable rainfall to at least coastal areas, so improvement is shown along the coast.
Confidence: Moderate

Recent rains have improved the drought in southeast Colorado and western Oklahoma, and additional moisture forecast in the first 10 days of the period should come close to ending drought.
Confidence: High

For the drought in Wisconsin and southeast and northeast Minnesota, above-normal rainfall forecast for the first 2 weeks is the main reason for depicting improvement. Recent rains have made the remaining drought very marginal in Minnesota, so confidence is relatively high for ending drought there. In northeastern and central Wisconsin, however, soil moisture and runoff forecasts based on ESP (Ensemble Streamflow Prediction) indicate a tendency for drought to persist, so confidence is low for that area.
Confidence: High for Minnesota. Low for Wisconsin.

In the West, the forecast is similar to the previous forecast, with some expansion of the improvement area in California due to historical trends going into January.
Confidence: Moderate except high for northern California.

In Hawaii, no changes were made to the previous outlook, with development forecast in some leeward areas and persistence elsewhere.
Confidence: Moderate


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NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction
Climate Prediction Center
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Page Author: Climate Prediction Center Internet Team
Page last modified: October 16, 2008
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