The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) notes that drought has been removed from the eastern Corn Belt and says the small area of lingering drought on the Plains will be eliminated by spring. It says for the next three-and-a-half months, El Nino conditions favor continued drought improvement or removal across southern Oregon, California, the Great Basin and the Southwest, while an anticipated dry signal supports drought persistence across the Northwest.
Below, compare the Seasonal Drought Outlook to the current Drought Monitor:
The CPC's forecast for February through April calls for above-normal temps across the Northern U.S., including the Northern Plains and entire Midwest, while below-normal temps are expected across Texas and along the Gulf states border. Above-normal precip is expected across the Central and Southern Plains, while below-normal precip is expected throughout the eastern Corn Belt.
CPC Outlooks for February-April:
The outlook for February is very similar to the 90-day outlook. In its accompanying text, the CPC notes the ongoing, strong El Nino is the important driver of the forecast, especially in February. "Since we are now past the peak of the El Nino event in terms of SST anomalies, the relevant questions relate to how quickly the event decays and whether we see a transition to La Nina, which frequently follows on the heels of El Nino events," states the CPC. "The CPC SST consolidation forecasts a return to neutral conditions by May-June-July and a 79% chance of La Nina by next winter."
The CPC adds that given the likelihood of neutral-ENSO conditions for much of summer 2016, "signals from ENSO regressions are less useful through summer 2016."
CPC Outlooks for February: