California, West May See Small Glimmers Of Hope In October Weather Forecast

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The forward-looking maps of October temperature and precipitation in the United States offer a silver lining for California and parts of the West. For the first time in months, the California precipitation forecast map is not colored parched brown, indicating drier-than-normal conditions.

Likewise, the temperature outlook map does not glow red, looking like a stove burner set on high.

On the two October maps, released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California and neighboring states are colored neutral white. This means that experts predict equal chances that temperatures and precipitation are above average, near average, or below average.

In particular, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forward-looking maps do not predict that California will be hotter or drier than average in October.

(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

If that sounds a bit like cold comfort, remember that maps for months have placed California and the West in warmer and drier than average categories. So it’s an improvement.

Normal rainfall for October in Santa Crus is around 1.5 inches. The outlook from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center means that the odds of a month that is much wetter than average are as good or better than the odds of a month that is much drier than average. The maps show the probability, or the percentage of chance, based on climatological data from 1991 to 2020.

“Any change in the atmospheric configuration that locks us into this drought would be welcome,” said climatologist Bill Patzert. The system expected to arrive on Friday will be the first North Pacific front since March, he said.

Washington state, most of Oregon, and northern Idaho are shown on the NOAA prospective map as wetter than normal. And some of that wetter-than-normal green extends south into drought-stricken northern California.

This map predicts that a wide swath in the center of the country, from North Dakota to Wisconsin and south to New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, will be wetter than average. This month, the map’s brown is in the northeast and New England, which is expected to be drier than normal in October.

In the temperature outlook, the United States east of the Rockies will be warmer than normal, while the coasts of Washington and Oregon are expected to be cooler than normal. In October, California, Nevada, and Arizona should have equal chances of being hotter than average, average, or colder than average.

A map showing the drought trend in the United States for October.

The outlook for October is for drought conditions to improve or end in much of the Pacific Northwest, and to persist or worsen in California.

(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

If the outlook for temperature and precipitation offers slightly positive news, the drought card is the Debbie Downer of forecast cards. Much of the west is colored brown, indicating that the drought will continue or worsen. But a closer look shows some signs of hope around the edges. Drought is expected to end or improve in Washington state and parts of Oregon and Idaho, as well as parts of the upper Midwest and Great Plains.

Droughts of this magnitude take a long time to develop, and are unlikely to go away within a month, so it’s not particularly surprising.

A wild card in all of this is the fact that October is a peak typhoon month in the Western Pacific. Tropical cyclones across the ocean from California can move north or northeast, where they can influence the jet stream.

The jet stream, also known as a storm track, is a narrow band of strong winds rushing from west to east in the upper layers of the atmosphere. Powerful storms such as typhoons can muscle the patterns of low pressure troughs and high pressure ridges of the jet stream, much like battle rope waves, and these changes can affect the west coast of North America. North.

So storms halfway around the world can add an element of uncertainty to the temperature and precipitation forecast for California, especially in October.

After months spent in a continuous loop of heat, drought and wildfires, Californians can hardly be faulted for finding slight encouragement in the NOAA outlook for October.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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