The Climate Prediction Center releases their US Winter Outlook every year during fall. This year it comes right after a La Nina watch was issued earlier in October. While it is possible that La Nina could play a role in our winter weather, it would be a small role; if a La Nina pattern develops it would likely be weak. An average La Nina pattern leads to slightly above average temperatures and slight below average rainfall in the Southern US, which wouldn’t be much of a change from our summer and fall weather trends. Other oscillations that influence winter weather patterns include the Arctic Oscillation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, along with a variety of other factors.
The actual outlook that was released on Thursday holds no surprises for the Southeast. The outlook depicts a 30%-40% chance of above average temperatures and up to a 30% chance of below average precipitation in Northern Alabama. The outlook also notes that drought in the southeast is expected to spread through the winter months. The most recent US Drought Monitor showed the drought already spreading quickly across Alabama and a drought emergency was declared this week for 28 counties.
This outlook doesn’t mean that we won’t see any big storms, but it’s likely that we’ll enter Spring still talking about the drought. You can learn more about the rest of the country’s winter outlook here.