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HOME> Outlook Maps>Seasonal Forecast Discussion
 
PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION FOR LONG-LEAD SEASONAL OUTLOOKS 
NWS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
830 AM EST THU JAN 21 2016

SUMMARY OF THE OUTLOOK FOR NON-TECHNICAL USERS

STRONG EL NINO CONDITIONS PERSISTED ACROSS THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC OCEAN WHICH
IS EVIDENT IN BOTH OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC DATA. THE ONGOING EL NINO HAS LIKELY
PEAKED, WITH A TRANSITION TO ENSO-NEUTRAL EXPECTED DURING THE LATE SPRING OR
EARLY SUMMER 2016. ODDS OF LA NINA DEVELOPING BY NEXT WINTER ARE SIMILAR TO
LAST MONTH.

THE FEBRUARY-MARCH-APRIL (FMA) 2016 TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK FAVORS ABOVE-NORMAL
TEMPERATURES ACROSS MUCH OF THE CONTINENTAL U.S., HAWAII, AND ALL OF ALASKA.
ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURE ARE FAVORED FOR THE WEST COAST STATES, NEVADA, AND
FROM THE NORTHERN ROCKIES ACROSS THE GREAT PLAINS TO THE MID-ATLANTIC AND NEW
ENGLAND. THE ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE HIGHEST ACROSS THE PACIFIC
NORTHWEST AND FROM THE UPPER GREAT LAKES TO NORTH DAKOTA. BELOW-NORMAL
TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES, TEXAS, AND ACROSS THE GULF
COAST.

THE FMA 2016 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK IS CHANGED MINIMALLY FROM THE PRIOR OUTLOOK
FOR THAT PERIOD. ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FORECAST FROM CALIFORNIA TO THE
THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, AND FROM THE GULF COAST TO THE
MID-ATLANTIC AND SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND. ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS ALSO
FORECAST FOR SOUTHERN ALASKA AND THE ALEUTIANS. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS
FAVORED FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, PORTIONS OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES, AND FROM
THE GREAT LAKES TO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY. WESTERN AND INTERIOR ALASKA ARE ALSO
LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION.

EQUAL CHANCES (EC) ARE FORECAST AMONG AREAS WHERE SEASONAL MEAN TEMPERATURES
AND SEASONAL ACCUMULATED PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE SIMILAR TO
CLIMATOLOGICAL PROBABILITIES.

BASIS AND SUMMARY OF THE CURRENT LONG-LEAD OUTLOOKS
NOTE: FOR GRAPHICAL DISPLAYS OF THE FORECAST TOOLS DISCUSSED BELOW SEE:
HTTP://WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV/PRODUCTS/PREDICTIONS/90DAY/TOOLS/BRIEFING

CURRENT ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC CONDITIONS

EQUATORIAL PACIFIC SST ANOMALIES REMAIN ELEVATED, WITH NINO3.4 VALUES
DECREASING STEADILY THROUGH THE MONTH. THE OFFICIAL MONTHLY NINO3.4 VALUE FROM
ERSSTV4 FOR DECEMBER IS 2.38 DEGREES C, SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN THE PREVIOUS
BENCHMARK 1997 EVENT. THE OCTOBER-NOVEMBER-DECEMBER OCEANIC NINO INDEX CAME IN
AT 2.3 DEGREES C, TYING THE SEASONAL VALUES FROM THE 1997 EVENT. SUBSURFACE
OCEAN TEMPERATURES FROM NEAR THE DATE LINE EASTWARD TO THE SOUTH AMERICAN COAST
ARE AT LEAST 2.0 DEGREES C ABOVE AVERAGE TO DEPTHS OF 100 METERS, EXCEEDING 6.0
DEGREES C ABOVE AVERAGE IN PARTS OF THE EASTERN BASIN. THIS SUBSURFACE VOLUME
OF ANOMALOUSLY WARM WATER PROVIDES A RESERVOIR OF HEAT TO HELP SUSTAIN CURRENT
POSITIVE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES. NEGATIVE ANOMALIES AT DEPTH (NEAR 200
METERS) HAVE RETREATED SLIGHTLY TO NEAR 170W, WHEN EARLIER IN DECEMBER, THOSE
NEGATIVE ANOMALIES EXTENDED TO NEAR 150W.

ENHANCED CONVECTION CONTINUED OVER THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC DURING DECEMBER AND
EARLY JANUARY. ENHANCED CONVECTION STRETCHED FROM NEAR 170E TO 120W, AND ALONG
THE SOUTH PACIFIC CONVERGENCE ZONE. LOW-LEVEL WIND ANOMALIES WERE STRONG NEAR
170W, WITH WESTERLY WIND ANOMALIES IN THE TAO ARRAY ON PAR WITH VALUES FROM
LATE 1997. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS INDICATE A ROBUST ATMOSPHERIC RESPONSE THROUGH THE
ENTIRE ATMOSPHERE.

THE MADDEN-JULIAN OSCILLATION (MJO) PLAYED A LARGE ROLE IN TROPICAL ATMOSPHERIC
VARIABILITY DURING DECEMBER AND EARLY JANUARY. RECENT OBSERVATIONS INDICATE A
WEAK SIGNAL FOR THE NEXT WEEK, BUT MANY MODELS HAVE AN EMERGING SIGNAL,
INTRODUCING SOME UNCERTAINTY IN THE EARLY PORTIONS OF THE OUTLOOK. REFER TO THE
MONTHLY OUTLOOK AND DISCUSSION FOR A MORE IN-DEPTH DISCUSSION OF THE POTENTIAL
IMPACTS OF THE MJO.

THE EXTRA-TROPICAL PACIFIC OCEAN REMAINS CONSISTENT WITH THE POSITIVE PHASE OF
THE PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION WITH ABOVE AVERAGE SSTS SOUTH OF ALASKA AND
ALONG THE WEST COAST.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION OF SST FORECASTS

SINCE WE ARE NOW PAST THE PEAK OF THE EL NINO EVENT IN TERMS OF SST ANOMALIES,
THE RELEVANT QUESTIONS RELATE TO HOW QUICKLY THE EVENT DECAYS AND WHETHER WE
SEE A TRANSITION TO LA NINA, WHICH FREQUENTLY FOLLOWS ON THE HEELS OF EL NINO
EVENTS. THE CPC SST CONSOLIDATION FORECASTS A RETURN TO NEUTRAL CONDITIONS BY
MJJ AND A 79% CHANCE OF LA NINA BY NEXT WINTER. THERE IS A LARGE SPREAD AMONG
THE NMME CONSTITUENT MEMBERS IN TERMS OF HOW QUICKLY A TRANSITION TO NEUTRAL
CONDITIONS OCCURS. THE CFSV2 MAINTAINS ANOMALOUSLY WARM SSTS MUCH LONGER THAN
THE OTHER GUIDANCE, WHILE THE GFDL AND CANADIAN MODELS ARE ON THE FASTER SIDE
OF THE GUIDANCE.

THE CPC/IRI CONSENSUS FORECAST INDICATES THAT THE TRANSITION TO ENSO NEUTRAL IS
MOST LIKELY BY EARLY SUMMER, AND ODDS OF LA NINA DEVELOPING BY ASO EXCEED 40%.

PROGNOSTIC TOOLS USED FOR U.S. TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION OUTLOOKS

THE SEASONAL OUTLOOKS FROM FMA 2016 THROUGH AMJ 2016 ARE BASED PRIMARILY ON THE
TYPICAL CIRCULATION RESPONSE TO EL NINO CONDITIONS AND THE ASSOCIATED
TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION IMPACTS AS DETERMINED BY REGRESSION-BASED
STATISTICAL MODELS AS WELL AS EL NINO COMPOSITES. THE NORTH AMERICAN
MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE (NMME) AND THE INTERNATIONAL MULTI-MODEL ENSEMBLE (IMME),
WHICH INCLUDE THE NCEP CLIMATE FORECAST SYSTEM (CFS), ALSO PLAYED A LARGE ROLE
THROUGH SUMMER 2016. OUTLOOKS FOR MJJ 2016 THROUGH SON 2016 RELY PRIMARILY ON
LAGGED ENSO REGRESSIONS, CPC STATISTICAL GUIDANCE INCLUDING TRENDS, THE SST
CONSTRUCTED ANALOG, AND THE CPC CONSOLIDATION. THE EXPECTATION IS FOR ENSO
NEUTRAL CONDITIONS DURING MUCH OF SUMMER 2016, SO SIGNALS FROM ENSO REGRESSIONS
ARE LESS USEFUL THROUGH SUMMER 2016. BASED ON THE BEHAVIOR OF SST ANOMALIES
AFTER MANY PAST EL NINO EVENTS AND THE CPC CONSOLIDATION NINO3.4 SST FORECAST,
EFFECTS FROM POTENTIAL LA NINA CONDITIONS WERE CONSIDERED BEGINNING IN SON 2016
THROUGH FMA 2017.

PROGNOSTIC DISCUSSION OF OUTLOOKS - FMA 2016 TO FMA 2017

TEMPERATURE

THE EARLY LEAD (FMA THROUGH AMJ) TEMPERATURE OUTLOOKS ARE CHANGED VERY LITTLE
AS THEY RELY HEAVILY ON THE LOW-FREQUENCY ENSO RESPONSE, EVIDENT AMONG ALL THE
CURRENT DYNAMICAL AND STATISTICAL GUIDANCE. STATISTICAL GUIDANCE IS GENERALLY
COLDER THAN THE DYNAMICAL GUIDANCE ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST, WHERE A VERY SLIGHT
SHIFT TOWARD COLDER TEMPERATURES IS INDICATED NEAR THE GULF COAST. DYNAMICAL
GUIDANCE IS WARMER ACROSS MUCH OF NORTH AMERICA WHEN COMPARED TO LAST MONTH.
ALL TEMPERATURE TOOLS CONTINUE TO STRONGLY FAVOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES
ACROSS THE NORTHERN HALF OF THE CONTINENTAL U.S. THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING WHICH
IS CONSISTENT WITH A STRONG EL NINO. ALSO, ABOVE-NORMAL SSTS ALONG THE WEST
COAST CONTRIBUTE TO THE ENHANCED ODDS FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES IN EARLY
LEADS. BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FAVORED FOR THE SOUTHERN HIGH PLAINS DURING
THE 2016 SPRING ARE PARTLY RELATED TO THE EXPECTATION OF ABNORMALLY MOIST
TOPSOIL AT THAT LEAD TIME.

A TRANSITION TO ENSO NEUTRAL CONDITIONS IS FAVORED DURING THE LATE SPRING AND
SUMMER 2016 SO THE OUTLOOKS FROM MJJ THROUGH SON 2016 FOLLOW A BLEND OF TREND,
DYNAMICAL GUIDANCE WHERE AVAILABLE, AND OTHER STATISTICAL GUIDANCE, INCLUDING
THE CPC CONSOLIDATION. ENHANCED ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST
FOR THE ENTIRE CONUS AT TIMES DURING THIS PERIOD, BUT AT LOW PROBABILITIES.
PROBABILITIES OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHWEST ARE SOMEWHAT
RESTRAINED BY THE EXPECTATION OF ABOVE-NORMAL SOIL MOISTURE, ESPECIALLY EARLY
IN THE WARM SEASON. THROUGH AUTUMN 2016, ODDS OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES
INCREASE OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN AND SOUTH-CENTRAL CONUS WHERE TRENDS ARE STRONG.

INCREASED CHANCES FOR ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES FORECAST ACROSS THE SOUTHERN
TIER OF THE CONUS FROM OND 2016 THROUGH FMA 2017 ARE BASED LARGELY ON THE
ENHANCED PROBABILITIES OF LA NINA BY THAT TIME. A SLIGHT TILT IN THE ODDS FOR
BELOW-NORMAL TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE NORTH-CENTRAL CONUS BEGINNING IN NDJ
2016-17 IS RELATED TO THE POTENTIAL FOR LA NINA INFLUENCES AT THAT LEAD TIME. A
VERY HIGH PROBABILITY OF ABOVE-NORMAL TEMPERATURES INDICATED FOR THE NORTH
SLOPE OF ALASKA DURING THE AUTUMN IS DUE TO THE LIKELIHOOD OF ANOMALOUSLY OPEN
SEA ICE DURING THAT TIME OF YEAR AND STRONG TRENDS.

PRECIPITATION

THE FMA 2016 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING CONTINUES TO FAVOR
A PATTERN THAT IS TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH EL NINO. ENHANCED ODDS FOR
ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE FORECAST ACROSS CALIFORNIA, THE SOUTHWEST,
CENTRAL/SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS, GULF COAST STATES, AND PARTS OF THE EAST COAST.
THE HIGHEST PROBABILITIES (ABOVE 60 PERCENT) FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE
FORECAST ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA FOR FMA 2016 WHICH TYPICALLY HAS THE
STRONGEST WET SIGNAL DURING EL NINO. COMPARED TO LAST MONTHS OUTLOOK FOR FMA
2016, ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ARE SLIGHTLY DECREASED OVER NORTHERN
CALIFORNIA AND SLIGHTLY INCREASED OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS AND FLORIDA, WHERE
MODEL GUIDANCE HAS THE STRONGEST SIGNAL AND WHERE THE RESPONSE TO EL NINO IS
THE STRONGEST. BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IS FAVORED THROUGH THE EARLY SPRING
ACROSS THE NORTHERN ROCKIES, PARTS OF THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS, GREAT LAKES,
AND THE OHIO VALLEY. THE DRY SIGNAL IN THE OHIO VALLEY IS SLIGHTLY REDUCED IN
COVERAGE DUE TO THE RECORD TYING STRENGTH OF THE ONGOING EL NINO EVENT. THIS
DRY SIGNAL SLOWLY WEAKENS WITH TIME THROUGH LATE SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER.

CONSISTENT WITH A SOUTHWARD AND EASTWARD SHIFTED STORM TRACK DURING EL NINO AND
CONSISTENT WITH THE NMME DYNAMICAL MODEL GUIDANCE, BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION
IS FAVORED FOR WEST-CENTRAL MAINLAND ALASKA FROM FMA 2016 THROUGH MAM 2016. A
SLIGHT TILT IN THE ODDS FOR ABOVE-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ALONG SOUTHERN COASTAL
ALASKA IS BASED ON EL NINO PRECIPITATION COMPOSITES AND ENSO REGRESSIONS.

DURING THE FALL SEASON OF 2016 AND WINTER 2016-17, THE POTENTIAL FOR LA NINA
CONDITIONS IS THE PRIMARY REASON FOR THE FAVORED AREAS OF BELOW- (ABOVE-)
MEDIAN PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER OF THE CONUS AND SOUTHERN COAST
OF ALASKA (PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND OHIO VALLEY/GREAT LAKES).

FORECASTER: MATTHEW ROSENCRANS

THE CLIMATIC NORMALS ARE BASED ON CONDITIONS BETWEEN 1981 AND 2010, FOLLOWING
THE WORLD METEROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION CONVENTION OF USING THE MOST RECENT 3
COMPLETE DECADES AS THE CLIMATIC REFERENCE PERIOD.  THE PROBABILITY ANOMALIES
FOR TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION BASED ON THESE NEW NORMALS BETTER REPRESENT
SHORTER TERM CLIMATIC ANOMALIES THAN THE FORECASTS BASED ON OLDER NORMALS.

FOR A DESCRIPTION OF OF THE STANDARD FORECAST TOOLS - THEIR SKILL- AND THE
FORECAST FORMAT PLEASE SEE OUR WEB PAGE AT
HTTP:/WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV/PRODUCTS/PREDICTIONS/90DAY/DISC.HTML
(USE LOWER CASE LETTERS)
INFORMATION ON THE FORMATION OF SKILL OF THE CAS FORECASTS MAY BE FOUND AT:
HTTP://WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV/SOILMST/FORECASTS.HTML (USE LOWERCASE LETTERS)
NOTES - THESE CLIMATE OUTLOOKS ARE INTENDED FOR USE PRIOR TO THE START OF THEIR
VALID PERIOD.  WITHIN ANY GIVEN VALID PERIOD OBSERVATIONS AND SHORT AND MEDIUM
RANGE FORECASTS SHOULD BE CONSULTED.

THIS SET OF OUTLOOKS WILL BE SUPERSEDED BY THE ISSUANCE OF THE NEW SET NEXT
MONTH ON FEB 18 2016


1981-2010 BASE PERIOD MEANS WERE IMPLEMENTED EFFECTIVE WITH THE MAY 19, 2011
FORECAST RELEASE.
$$

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