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La Niña Expected To Bring Dry Winter To Southern California

Predictions Mimic Climate Change Predictions For Some Regions

Audio

Aired 10/21/11

Government forecasters expect La Niña to cause dry conditions in Southern California this winter.

The Pacific Ocean cooling known as La Niña is once again affecting the weather.

The U.S. seasonal drought outlook for Oct. 20, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012.
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Above: The U.S. seasonal drought outlook for Oct. 20, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looks at nearly a dozen computer models of the expected changes in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Meteorologist Alex Tardy, who's with the National Weather Service in San Diego, said NOAA's Climate Prediction Center then compares those models to previous years.

"What we're expecting this year is continued La Niña, in fact a little bit more cooling of La Niña conditions, and that has a tendency to bring dryer conditions - when you average it all together over the whole several months of the wet season - to Southern California," said Tardy.

He said if the predictions play out, it could also mean ripe conditions for wildfires in San Diego County and elsewhere in Southern California.

"Unfortunately we can't let our guard down in terms of the fire season even though we had a really wet year last year," Tardy said.

For the Pacific Northwest, La Niña is expected to bring colder and wetter than average conditions with increased mountain snow. Those same conditions were predicted in climate change models too.

"So there's no doubt that there's a signal of some extreme weather," said Tardy. "And you're correct we may be seeing that with potential of back-to-back cool, wet snowy winters for the Pacific Northwest."

NOAA predicts the dry conditions in Southern California will extend east across drought-stricken Texas and Oklahoma and along the Gulf Coast into Florida and possibly north to Virginia.

La Niña is also expected to bring dry conditions to Arizona while Hawaii's statewide drought will continue along with above-average temperatures through the winter.

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