ATLANTA -- The Winter Outlook has just been issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the predictions are not looking encouraging for the Southeast. The initial thinking is that much of the Southeast, including Georgia, should prepare for a warmer and drier than average winter season which means drought conditions will likely worsen.
A moderate to strong La Nina is expected to be the dominant climate factor influencing the nation's weather through February. La Nina is the exact opposite of El Nino. So while El Nino refers to warmer than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, the La Nina weather pattern is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Pacific. Both El Nino and La Nina have the potential to bring weather extremes to various portions of the country.
Oftentimes during a La Nina pattern, the main storm track cuts across the Pacific Northwest as the northern branch of the jet stream is dominant. This pattern favors flooding in the Northwest and a deep snowpack in the northern Rockies. But the southern tier of states experience a less active storm track, and it's this general lack of storminess in the southern tier of the country that leads to below average precipitation.
So if predictions hold up, the Southeast may be gearing up for more problems this winter with not just the drought, but a higher risk for wildfires as well.