Long-Range Forecast

Mar 16, 2006 12:36pm

They’re having a drought.  In the desert.

If you live in Arizona or West Texas, you already know this, but NOAA, putting out its Spring outlook, says there’s no end in sight.  There’s a weak La Nina in the Pacific, which typically brings dry weather to the southern half of the U.S., and, if it continues, bodes ill for this year’s hurricane season.

"Recent storms have eased the drought situation in many areas of the country, but the rain and snow arrived too late to offset the impacts from months of record dry weather across the Southwest, resulting in the continuing potential for a dangerous fire season," is the operative quote from David L. Johnson, director of the National Weather Service. 

A quick global-weather primer, in case you don’t have this memorized: a La Nina is a patch of unusually cold water along the equator in the Pacific off South America.  It causes less evaporation into the prevailing winds than would the opposite–an El Nino, which is a warm swath in the Pacific–and, as a result, rearranges the jet streams coming across the U.S.  Result: dry weather prevails along the coast of southern California and inland from there.  And jet streams over the Atlantic, which would normally break up hurricanes as they move north from the tropics, will be too far north to matter.

NOAA has posted a map of its April-June precipitation outlook HERE

A map of its temperature outlook is HERE.

Obviously, local conditions can vary.  Nobody can say it’ll be sunny and 81 in Tennessee on June 22.  But these long-range outlooks are pretty useful, especially when there’s a La Nina or El Nino in place to steer prevailing conditions.

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Space Note: Today is 40 years since the flight of Gemini 8.  Probably a footnote to all but the most determined space nuts. 

Gemini 8 performed the first docking in orbit, with an Agena target rocket, but the flight had to be cut short when an errant thruster sent the ship tumbling out of control.  The commander was a rookie astronaut named Neil Armstrong.

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