The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its spring 2022 outlook for the U.S. on Thursday, forecasting prolonged, persistent drought in the West and likely below-average precipitation for the second year in a row.
The NOAA's Climate Prediction Center's forecast predicts above average temperatures for most of the U.S. from April to June, from the Desert Southwest to the East Coast and north through the Midwest to the Canadian border.
The agency also foresees continuing or worsening drought April through June west of the Mississippi River, from Mississippi to California and north to Montana and Washington.
In the West and South, it will be drier than normal, worsening and expanding the drought. But in the East, drought that has been seen in the Southeast and parts of the Great Lakes will likely improve and end over the next few months.
“Severe to exceptional drought has persisted in some areas of the West since the summer of 2020, and drought has expanded to the southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley,” Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operational prediction branch of the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a press release.
“With nearly 60% of the continental U.S. experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions, this is the largest drought coverage we’ve seen in the U.S. since 2013," Gottschalck added.
The NOAA forecasts a high chance of above normal temperatures for the next three months for more than half of the country. The East Coast, Midwest and South have a good chance of seeing temperatures above normal this spring.
The only states with a chance of seeing below normal temperatures are Oregon and Washington, including Portland and Seattle, and parts of northern Idaho and Montana, according to the NOAA's forecast.
The NOAA forecasts more than normal precipitation for the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions, including Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Below normal precipitation is possible from northern California to Denver, including the San Fransisco Bay Area, into Dallas and New Orleans.
Dry conditions will also bring a higher risk of wildfires across the Southwest, southern and central Plains, especially where high winds are present.
The NOAA warned there could be major flooding possible in the Red River Valley, from Fargo to Grand Fork, due to spring snow melt. Moderate flooding is also possible on Mississippi River south of St. Louis into Illinois and Indiana.