John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Will it be wet, hot, cool? Here are a few regional outlooks from NOAA.
While nobody can say for sure about the latter, NOAA has made predictions about temperature, precipitation, and flooding, and they should be welcomed by both the drought-hammered West and warmth-starved East. (What’s that about another snowstorm this weekend?) The main story is the enduring presence of El Niño. While it’ll probably weaken in the months ahead, NOAA calls it a “strong climate signal that will shape the nation’s weather this spring.”
First, temperature: A huge portion of the country is under high probabilities for above-average warmth from April to June. The armpit-staining torridity is expected to be particularly intense in the Pacific Northwest and New England, as shown in this graphic from Climate.gov.
Heightened probabilities of wetness extend from California through the South and into the Southeast. Places that could get starved of moisture include the Great Lakes, eastern Washington, southern Alaska, and Hawaii.
The already-saturated earth in much of the country’s south and midsection is ratcheting up flood threats through May. Says NOAA: “Parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and eastern Texas have an elevated risk of moderate flooding, along with communities along the Mississippi and Missouri River basins and the southeastern United States, from Alabama to North Carolina. Surrounding areas are at risk of minor flooding this spring.”
Flooding won’t help areas that really need a deluge, notably Southern California. The drought situation as of last week had much of the state under “exceptional” aridity, with abnormal-to-severe drought spread throughout the West.
A few places are expected to see a decrease or even end to drought, such as Northern California and Oregon. Drought will likely persist in Nevada and the lower half of California, however, and even spread to new territory in the Southwest.