FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Curtis Carey
Winter snow storms in the Northeast and Midwest have set the stage for potential flooding while drought conditions in the Northwest and water shortages in the Southeast will linger despite spring rains, NOAA scientists at the Commerce Department said today.
"A major concern is the impact of continued dry conditions on salmon stocks and hydroelectric energy production in the Northwest," said Scott Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator. "Current conditions are so extreme that portions of the Columbia River Basin may register river flow volume at its lowest since 1977."
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the weather service, said, "You had the coldest November and December on record in parts of the country, drought conditions in the Northwest and Florida, major snowstorms which crippled parts of the nation; that equals a winter to remember."
Kelly said, "The spring outlook presents forecasters with two concerns -- drought and floods. "Heavy snows in the Northeast and Midwest now make some of those states vulnerable to floods if the snow pack melts too quickly. The water shortage in the Southeast is expected to remain. The Northwest will see above-normal precipitation, but the spring rainfall will be too little too late to replenish water resources there."
Geological Survey stream-gauges and other monitoring systems
For Spring 2001, the nation can expect:
Though above-normal precipitation is forecast for parts of the Northwest, it will not be enough to offset the impact of already low precipitation levels and the resulting thin snow pack;
Near normal precipitation conditions expected over Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico leaving most of Hawaii and southern Puerto Rico in persistent dryness. Alaska has been relatively warm with below-normal snowpack. This spring above normal temperatures are expected for northern Alaska while the southern extremes should be cool.
"NOAA's recent climate initiatives and technology improvements have resulted in gains in the accuracy of long-term seasonal forecasts and short-term severe weather prediction, " Gudes said. "NOAA's climate and weather forecast services are vital since $1 trillion of the U.S. economy is weather sensitive with most of the major economic sectors including energy, agriculture, transportation, construction, and water resources affected."
To read the complete Spring 2001 Outlook, visit: http://www.cpc.noaa.gov. The outlook will be updated on April 12 at 3 p.m EST.