There have been recent updates to the U.S. Drought Monitor and El Niño. Let’s take a look.
Drought continues to persists, and in some cases expand, across the nation. 65.5% of the contiguous U.S. is in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought. This compares 51.1% only 3 months ago. This past summer was the 3rd hottest on record, which significantly help expand the drought over the Great Plains and Midwest.
Closer to home, the core of extreme or exceptional drought persists over the Southeast U.S. Currently, 34.04% of Georgia reports either D3 or D4 drought, fairly close to a month ago.
Keep in mind that September and October can be quiet times of the year. Thus, big changes in the core of drought might not occur until November and into the winter and spring months.
Information on the current El Niño episode was also updated recently. In September, the Nino 3.4 SSTA dropped from +0.9C to +0.5C, which is quite significant over such a short period of time.
The latest IRI/CPC model forecast (below) calls for continuing weak El Niño conditions through the winter months. The critical winter/early spring recharge period is highlighted in blue. A number of climate models are now showing a significant moderation of El Niño — back into neutral conditions by Spring. If so, this recent El Niño could be one of the more weaker and short-lived events in the recent past.
In fact, probabilities for neutral ENSO conditions exceeds El Niño conditions during the Feb-Mar-Apr time frame. By the Mar-Apr-May time frame, probabilities for neutral conditions are near 60% versus 35% for El Niño .
The intensity of the current El Niño episode could play a critical role in late winter and spring recharge possibilities for selected areas of the nation, especially in light of the extensive drought.