The National Weather Service in Shreveport gave a special webinar Thursday morning to address how a developing La Niña could impact our winter forecast. The outlook is for December through February.
There is high confidence that the upcoming months will be warmer and drier than normal.
La Niña occurs when equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures are colder than normal. This has an effect on the upper level wind or jet stream pattern across the continental United States. The result is the jet stream being pushed north which results in less frequent cold front passages across the ArkLaTex region. This will be the 4th La Niña we have experienced since 2005.
What does this mean for us? According to Jason Hansford, Senior Meteorologist, with NWS Shreveport, worsening drought conditions.
“The prospects for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation does enhance our confidence that drought will continue to expand and gradually worsen with time across really all of the ArkLaTex,” says Hansford.
We have already seen moderate to severe drought conditions across much of the region, especially along and north of I-20. Worsening drought conditions could have adverse effects on agriculture and fire weather conditions.
As for the potential for snow and ice? Hansford says previous La Niña events have resulted in few snowfall events where we receive over 2 inches of accumulation.
“I’m not going to say that it won’t happen, but the chances appear greatly reduced that we’re going to see wintry precipitation this winter,” says Hansford.
Due to the frequency of La Niña events since 2005, the NWS Shreveport office has been able to find correlations in how severe weather may be affected.
Typically December and January result in few reports of damaging wind, large hail and tornadoes, before we begin to see a gradual upswing in reports in February.
Hansford has noticed a trend of severe weather frequency decreasing across the northern ArkLaTex during La Niña.
“The frequency of severe weather does really drop off across McCurtain County, Oklahoma and much of southwest Arkansas,” Hansford says.
You can view the latest drought update at: drought.gov