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NOAA: January through March 2022 expected to be warmer and drier than normal for most of the region

The latest seasonal outlooks for January through March 2022 were released today by NOAA. They show a pattern very similar to what we expect from a weak to moderate La Nina. Since that is the ENSO phase we are in now, that is not too surprising. You can always see these maps at https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1 too.

Remember that these maps predict the likelihood of above or below normal temperature or precipitation values, but not how much above or below they are going to be. Unless the probability is very high, there is still a chance the climate could swing the other way due to unpredictable events like a Sudden Stratospheric Warming. And you can have swings of temperatures or precipitation due to frontal passages or other short-term weather events that don’t match the overall climate expectation because weather naturally changes over short time periods.

Note that if we get the climate conditions we expect, we could see drought expand in the region over the next few months as lack of rain and higher than normal evaporation from warm temperatures dries out the soil. Not something to worry about at this point, but something to keep in mind. Only time will tell how good this forecast is.