More Washington Drought Ahead? NOAA Outlook Points That Way | KUOW News and Information

More Washington Drought Ahead? NOAA Outlook Points That Way

Oct 15, 2015

The latest El Niño forecast report is out from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and it looks like the drought will continue into next year for most of Washington.

NOAA releases regular temperature and precipitation predictions, and the latest information confirms what it has been saying for months.

El Niño is expected to be very strong in the Pacific at least through January, but the impact on Washington state will be mixed.

For the Puget Sound area, the data is inconclusive. There are equal chances of above normal, below normal or normal precipitation between November and January.

But NOAA says the picture is clearer in central and eastern Washington, which have been hard-hit by drought.  

Seattle's National Weather Service meteorologists interpret the data to say there is a very strong likelihood that those parts of the state will see warmer and drier weather than normal, at least through January.

That likely means another year of low snowpack, which will affect rivers, streams and fire conditions in the coming year.

This year the drought affected salmon runs on the Olympic Peninsula and elsewhere, and the state had its worst wildfire season ever, with more than 1 million acres burned and three firefighters killed.

Recent rain has slightly improved conditions on the Olympic Peninsula, although 100 percent of the state still is in drought, according to the weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

NOAA said El Niño should bring desperately needed rain to central and Southern California from November to January, improving the drought situation there. It said that large parts of the Southwest could actually be removed from drought status.

But NOAA said the northern Rockies, northern Plains and northern Great Lakes region could see drought persist.

Here’s video from NOAA on the overall winter weather outlook for the United States.