Climate and Drought Outlook for the United States
The October 2020 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) update indicated that overall, the coupled ocean-atmosphere system indicates the continuation of La Niña. Over the next few months, La Niña is likely to continue through the winter 2020-2021 (~85%) and into spring 2021 (~60% chance during February through April) in the Northern Hemisphere. To read more, click here.
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 2020 three-month outlook (from October through January) forecasts warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the northern U.S. due to an ongoing La Niña. Significant portions of the Southwest and West Texas are projected to have the highest probability (60 to 70 percent) of above-normal temperatures over the next three months, while other areas in the West, South, Northeast, and northern Alaska have probabilities of above-normal temperatures exceeding 40 percent. Conversely, areas of northwest Washington and southern Alaska are projected to have below-normal temperatures (33 to 50 percent probability). To view NOAA CPC updates, click here.
This map depicts the locations of below, near, or above normal temperatures during the three-month period of October 2020 through January 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center).
The NOAA CPC three-month outlook forecasts above-normal precipitation (33 to 50 percent probability) across the northern tier of the contiguous U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest across the Upper Great Plains, and northern Alaska. In contrast, below-normal precipitation is projected across the southern half of the contiguous U.S. and southern Alaska (33 to 60 percent probability). The greatest chance for below-normal precipitation (50 to 60 percent) is forecasted from the Southwest, across Texas along the Gulf Coast, into Florida. The lack of precipitation in these areas is projected to trigger further development or intensification of drought conditions (see the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook below). To learn about the climate projected for this upcoming winter, read NOAA's U.S. Winter Outlook Release here. To view an interactive map of NOAA’s Seasonal Climate Outlook, click here.
This map depicts the locations of below, near, or above precipitation during the three-month period of October 2020 through January 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center).
According to the NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, covering October through January, existing drought conditions are expected to persist across most of the western half of the continental U.S., as well as areas in the Northeast, Ohio Valley, Midwest, and Great Plains. Further drought development is expected to occur in the Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast (Florida and Georgia), and West (southern California). It is projected that the rest of the areas previously under drought, notably areas in the Northeast and Northwest, will either improve or drought conditions will be alleviated entirely. To view the latest NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook map, click here.
This map depicts a nationwide outlook of seasonal drought during the period of October 2020 through January 2021. (Map courtesy of NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center).
The links below will direct you to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, which includes information on ENSO, climate, and drought outlooks, as well as other forecasts and models.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Seasonal Drought Outlook
- National Integrated Drought Information System: U.S. Drought Portal
- Climate Prediction Center ENSO (El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation) Update
- NOAA Climate Prediction Center
- NOAA Climate Seasonal Media Release
Additional Information and Data