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Climate Prediction Center


November 2014 - January 2015


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Latest Seasonal Assessment - Since the previous outlook issued during mid-September, drought improvement occurred across Arizona and New Mexico with intensification across Oklahoma and Texas. Drought intensity remained steady across California where nearly 60 percent of the state is designated as exceptional drought (D4) by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The drought outlook valid from October 16, 2014 through January 31, 2014 is based primarily on initial conditions, the CPC November-January precipitation outlook, El Niño precipitation composites, and climatology. Heavy rain during mid-October and enhanced odds for above-median precipitation forecast for NDJ likely favor removal across the eastern U.S. The broad area of drought improvement or removal forecast for southern California, the Southwest, and southern Great Plains is consistent with the NDJ precipitation outlook and El Niño precipitation composites. Coastal northern California is expected to experience improvement, most likely in December or January, as this region enters a very wet time of year. Persistence is forecast across the remainder of California including the Sierras. The potential for slow drought recovery exists later in the winter and early spring for the Sierras with snowfall a critical factor. Drought development is expected across interior parts of the Pacific Northwest where a dry signal during El Niño winters exists.

The small drought area in Puerto Rico is expected to persist since December and January are relatively dry months. The removal forecast for ongoing drought in Hawaii is related to expected rainfall from Ana.

Discussion for the Seasonal Drought Outlook

Tools used in the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook (SDO) included the official Climate Prediction Center (CPC) temperature and precipitation outlooks for November 2014 and November 2014 - January 2015, various short- and medium-range forecasts and models such as the forecast 5-day and 7-day precipitation totals from the Weather Prediction Center (WPC), the 6-10 day and 8-14 day CPC forecasts, the NAEFS precipitation outlooks, the soil moisture tools based on the Constructed Analog on Soil Moisture (CAS), dynamical models (CFSv2, NMME, IRI, and IMME), the 384-hour total precipitation forecasts from several runs of the GFS, the four-month Palmer drought termination and amelioration probabilities, climatology, and initial conditions. An El Niño Watch is currently in effect, with the October 9 ENSO Diagnostic Discussion indicating a 2 in 3 chance of El Niño during the fall and early winter.

A multi-year drought has resulted in nearly 60 percent of California designated as exceptional drought, the most intense category of the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). The onset of the wet season during this outlook period raises the potential for improvement. California typically receives 40 to 50 percent of its annual precipitation from November through January. The best prospects for improvement are across southern California where the CPC precipitation outlook for NDJ favors above-median precipitation and coastal northern California where precipitation normals are the highest during NDJ. The next 10 days are expected to be relatively wet across coastal northern California. However, any significant improvements for this region or southern California are not expected until December or January. Elsewhere, across the remainder of California, persistence is forecast with prospects for drought improvement potentially increasing later during the winter or early spring.
Forecast confidence for California is low.

Much of the Pacific Northwest is designated as moderate to extreme drought according to the USDM. During the past 30 days, precipitation averaged at or below-normal except for southwest Oregon. Drought improvement or removal is for southwest Oregon since NDJ is typically a wet time of year and above-median precipitation is expected during the remainder of October. Persistence or development is forecast for central and eastern areas of Oregon and Washington. The development forecast for northeast Oregon and eastern Washington is where increased chances for below-median precipitation forecast during NDJ coincide with abnormal dryness. A dry signal is also apparent in El Niño precipitation composites during the winter.
Forecast confidence for the Pacific Northwest is moderate.

Persistence is expected for most of Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. Development is expected across northern Idaho and extreme western Montana where 30-day precipitation deficits exist and enhanced odds for below-median precipitation are forecast during NDJ. Improvement or removal forecast for extreme southern Nevada and southern Utah is consistent with the enhanced odds for above-median precipitation during NDJ forecast for these areas.
Forecast confidence for Idaho, Nevada, and Utah is moderate.

An active East Pacific hurricane season and a robust monsoon resulted in 90-day precipitation surpluses across most of Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast Colorado. According to the USDM since July 1, the coverage of severe to exceptional drought decreased from 76 to 38 percent in Arizona and 86 to 30 percent in New Mexico. Drought removal or improvement is forecast to continue across Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast Colorado due to enhanced odds for above-median precipitation forecast during NDJ.
Forecast confidence for Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast Colorado is moderate.

The rainfall pattern varied across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas during the past month. Large positive anomalies (more than 3 inches) were observed across southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, west Texas, and the Texas Gulf Coast with pockets of dryness across the remainder of Oklahoma and north Texas. Above-median precipitation is favored for much of the ongoing drought areas of the central and southern Great Plains. Therefore, drought improvement and removal is forecast for this region. In addition, seasonably cooler temperatures are expected to also favor drought relief.
Forecast confidence for Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast Colorado is moderate.

An intense upper-level trough brought heavy rainfall (locally more than 3 inches) to moderate/severe drought areas of Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida during mid-week. As of October 15, heavy rain is expected to spread into the Northeast. Due to the recent wetness and a slight tilt in the odds for above-median precipitation during NDJ, drought removal is likely for the aforementioned areas.
Forecast confidence for Arkansas and the eastern U.S. is high.

Small areas of drought exist on Hawaii's Maui and Molokai Island. Tropical Storm Ana developed over the Central Pacific recently. As of October 15, Ana is forecast to become a Hurricane and track over or near the Hawaiian Islands. Heavy rainfall associated with Ana is expected to ease or end the Hawaii drought. Confidence is reduced by some uncertainty in the final track of Ana. Since there is a correlation between El Niño conditions and below-normal rainfall across Hawaii, the potential exists for drought development later in the winter.
Forecast confidence for Hawaii is moderate.

According to the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS), the drought area of Puerto Rico received below-average rainfall since mid-September. Rainfall associated with Hurricane Gonzalo remained generally northeast of Puerto Rico during mid-October. Since December and January are relatively dry months of the year, persistence is most likely.
Forecast confidence for Puerto Rico is 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, 2014
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