The outlook for the winter of 2011-2012 does not bear good news for folks on either side of the Red River.
A strengthening La Nina pattern is becoming more likely, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The map above shows what a typical La Nina brings to the country:
- More than snow than average to the Great Lakes
- More rain than average to the Pacific Northwest, and heavy snow to the mountains of Washington, Oregon and Idaho
- Very dry weather for the southwestern U.S.
- Warmer and drier than average weather for the southern Plains which includes Texoma
NOAA does offer an asterisk this year: A recurring pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) could send a few very cold shots to locations from the Rockies eastward (which includes us), and these sometimes bring snow as well. Each "cycle" of the AO can only be identified about 7 to 10 days in advance.
However, day-to-day conditions will likely be drier and warmer than those of a typical Texoma winter.
Of course this forecast is very bad news for a region that’s had its worst drought on record during the past 12 months.
So what does this mean for the landscape?
- Lake levels and river flows will remain well below average
- Soils will continue dry with high fire danger persisting
- Snow events are less likely than average this winter (but still possible)
- Warm winters are often associated with more wind than usual