With dry La Niña conditions, persistent Western drought looms

More than 45% of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought right now, especially in the West. With a La Nina climate pattern well-established and expected to persist, the drought may expand and intensify in the southern part of the country during the winter ahead, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted.

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October 16, 2020 - 2:25 PM

A tiny plant struggles to emerge from a cracked, dry lake bed in California. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — The forecast looks warm and continued dry this winter in California and the Southwest, which raises the disturbing prospect of a perpetual fire season.

More than 45% of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought right now, especially in the West. With a La Nina climate pattern well-established and expected to persist, the drought may expand and intensify in the southern part of the country during the winter ahead, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted.

The official outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, released Thursday, favors warmer, drier conditions across the Southern tier of the U.S. and cooler, wetter conditions in the north, consistent with an ongoing La Nina.

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