Much of the South will continue to be dry this winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, citing the effects of the ongoing La Niña.
The 2020 winter outlook shows a wetter-than-average forecast for the northern tier of the country -- from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes, with below average temperatures as well.
Outlook looks bleak for the Southwest
With the outlook highlighting a warm and dry trend to remain in the Southwest, this will likely make ongoing drought conditions there worse.
More than 45% of the continental US is currently experiencing drought.
This is the "most widespread drought we've seen in the United States since September 2013," according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
What is behind the phenomenon
The forecast is what we typically see during a La Niña year such as this.
La Niña — translated from Spanish as "little girl"— is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which consequently causes weather impacts across the world.
La Niña typically brings wetter and cooler than average conditions across the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains, while drier and warmer than average conditions typically prevail in the South. Meaning, places such as the desert Southwest, that has desperately needed rainfall this year, will most likely continue to stay drier than normal because of a strong La Niña.
There is a high probability of it being on the stronger side.
Endless summer in the Southwest
The winter outlook also shows hotter-than-average temperatures across the southern tier and the East. This includes anywhere from central and southern California to Florida, and all the way up the East Coast into New England.
This means little relief for the Southwest, which has already had a historic summer.
Phoenix reached 100 degrees Wednesday afternoon. That was the 144th day this year that the Arizona city reached 100 -- a new record, according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix. The previous record of 143 days was set in 1989.
As of October 14, exactly half of the days in 2020 had reached 100 degrees in Phoenix (144 out of 288).