La Niña: Could Arizona be in for another dry winter, leading to even worse drought conditions

Posted at 8:06 AM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 11:06:41-04

Could Arizona be in for another dry winter, leading to even worse drought conditions? It is certainly a possibility with the threat of another La Niña on the horizon.

La Niña refers to cooler-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the central and east-central Pacific Ocean, near the equator.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued a La Niña Watch on Thursday for the potential re-emergence of La Niña conditions by the fall.

La Nina Watch.JPG

According to the CPC, there is a 66% chance that La Niña conditions could last from November 2021 to January 2022.

La Niña conditions can have varying effects on weather patterns around the world.

For us across the Southwest, La Niña typically brings drier-than-normal conditions during the winter. This is because the jet stream, or storm track, stays to the north of our area, essentially making for wetter-than-normal conditions across the Pacific Northwest, but drier than normal conditions for the Desert Southwest. While this isn't always the case every time La Niña is present, it is representative of the average impacts.

This update comes as Arizona sits deep in drought. Ninety-nine percent of the state is experiencing some level of drought with more than half of the state experiencing an Exceptional drought, which is the worst level.

These drought conditions developed after a drier-than-normal 2020 monsoon season and a dry 2020/2021 winter season.

According to the CPC, there is a tendency for back-to-back La Niña winters which increases forecaster confidence in the probability that this coming winter will indeed be another La Niña winter.