Water shortages due to severe drought will continue to persist in California even if the state receives an average amount of precipitation this winter, said Kevin Werner, western regional climate services director at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association (NOAA). This prediction came during NOAA’s winter 2014–2015 outlook for U.S. precipitation and temperature, released on 16 October.

Additionally, NOAA climate scientists have yet to see signals for a strong El Niño, which may result in drier conditions and heightened drought risk in the western regions of the United States. The precipitation outlook favors wetter-­than-­average conditions across the U.S. southern tier and drier conditions in the west and northern regions. The temperature outlook favors warmer-than-average temperatures in the western United States, along the U.S.-Canadian border, and through the Northeast.

A repeat of last winter’s “polar vortex” is unlikely, said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The predicted conditions are “an average,” he added, so even though a repeat of last winter’s extreme temperatures and precipitation is unlikely, the possibility still exists.

To see the full winter outlook, see http://bit.ly/NOAAWinterOutlook2014.

—JoAnna Wendel, Staff Writer

© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.

© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.