Southwest drought expected to continue
NOAA’s annual spring outlook, released late last week, is kind of a no-brainer. The long-lead forecast typically focuses on precipitation and its effects, as spring introduces the resumption of growing seasons and possible flooding concerns where snowpacks are exceptional or rain has been unusually abundant. This is most assuredly not the case for Utah.
The 2017-18 La Nina is now all but finished; the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has in fact officially written it off. But its typical wintertime signature is very much in evidence across the southwestern quarter of the country, with significant drought centered over the Four Corners. NOAA expects drought to worsen over all but the extreme northern reaches of Utah this spring. Basically, everywhere southwest of a line from Oregon to Louisiana should grow progressively drier, and the agency’s confidence in this particular aspect of its spring outlook is high. Meanwhile, flooding is likely to be an issue in the lower Ohio and Mississippi river valleys, as the last third of the winter was extremely wet in those regions. On the temperature front, all but the northern Rockies and northern Plains should be unusually warm this spring.