Jared N asked a great question yesterday. Basically, he was asking how long this current dry spell will last and what will the fire outlook be? La Nina and the general cold of the Pacific Ocean is driving our weather pattern and it doesn’t look like a big change is on the way
El Nino and La Nina are the warm and cold episodes for the sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. El Nino usually indicates a cool wet pattern for the Southwest. La Nina usually means a warm dry winter for the Southwest. In the chart above, most of the models show that La Nina will hang on at least through Spring. The March-April-May (MAM) data point shows the temperature anomaly just crossing above -0.5 degrees C. One half of a degree anomaly is the demarcation of La Nina or El Nino.
With El Nino, the storm track is typically right across the southern United States. With La Nina, the jet stream and storm track stay to the north. Since our last storm in December, we experienced this nearly exact situation. With La Nina predicted to stay in tact, the outlook is for more of the same. While it seems to me that the Climate Prediction Center’s 3-month outlook looks nearly the same for any situation, it actually applies now. Warm and dry conditions are forecast for the next 3 months. The would indicate a potentially bad fire season. However, a single errant storm could dump a bunch of snow and get us back to normal.