NOAA 2002-118
Contact: Carmeyia Gillis
NOAA News Releases 2002
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After months of developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is poised to influence fall and winter weather across the United States, NOAA’s top climate experts said today. The El Niño influence will be weaker than the very strong 1997-98 version, but will still impact temperature and precipitation patterns.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., NOAA officials released the nation's official fall and winter outlooks, which reflect the ongoing El Niño.

“El Niño will likely influence the fall and winter weather patterns,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The El Niño conditions that have persisted for months will be at moderate strength through the end of 2002 and into early 2003.”

El Niño’s Impact On 2002-03 Fall, Winter

With nearly half of the United States experiencing drought, the fall/winter outlook only offers “limited relief,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service. “While some improvement in the drought is possible, namely across the Southwest and southern and central Plains states, it may not be enough to alleviate dry conditions entirely, particularly in the Northwest, Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and the Ohio Valley.”

Overall, Kelly said forecasters expect El Niño’s fall and winter impacts to include:
drier-than-average conditions in the Pacific Northwest and mid-Atlantic states during fall; drier-than-average conditions in the northern Rockies and the Ohio Valley states during the winter; wetter-than-average conditions in the southern tier states during winter; and warmer-than-average conditions in the northern tier of the United States during winter.

Jim Laver, director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the section of the National Weather Service that produced the fall/winter outlook and tracks El Niño, said the agency’s commitment to research and technology helped forecasters. “We’ve had our eyes on this El Niño for months, and understand it well enough to predict its likely climate impacts months in advance,” he said.

Across the nation, the 2002 Fall outlook includes:

In the Pacific Northwest and mid-Atlantic states, drier than normal conditions are expected. Over the rest of the United States, there are equal chances for rainfall to be above normal, normal or below normal.

Above normal temperatures are expected in southern parts of Florida, and in the Southwest and western islands of Hawaii. Over the rest of the United States, there are equal chances for temperatures to be above normal, normal or below normal.

The 2002/03 Winter outlook includes:

Below-normal precipitation is expected in the Northwest including Washington, northeast Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, western parts of North Dakota, and northwest South Dakota.

Precipitation is also expected to be below normal in the Ohio Valley states.

In the southern parts of the United States, stretching from central/southern California to the Carolinas, precipitation is expected to be above normal.

Temperatures are expected to be above normal across the northwestern, mid-western and northeastern states of the continental United States.

Over the rest of the continental United States, there are equal chances for precipitation and temperatures to be above normal, normal, or below normal.

Temperatures are expected to be above normal over southeastern parts of Alaska

Below-normal temperatures and below normal precipitation are expected in Hawaii.

NOAA will continue to issue monthly updates to the 2002-03 winter outlook.

The Climate Prediction Center is one of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which is a part of NOAA’s National Weather Service. NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories and operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.