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Much Of United States To See Warmer Than Normal Temperatures
La Niña Likely To Hang On Until August

USA Drought UpdateApril 19, 2000 — For most of the United States, the rest of the spring and summer will bring warmer than normal temperatures, and some Midwestern and Great Plains states will continue to experience drier than normal conditions, according to the latest seasonal forecast released last week by NOAA's National Weather Service. The forecast also predicts that La Niña, which has dominated global weather patterns for the past two years, will linger until August 2000.

"All of the computer weather models agree that most of the U.S. will be warmer than usual, but at least we can see the end coming for La Niña," said Ants Leetmaa, director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, which is part of the National Weather Service. He added that the persistent La Niña is the meteorological answer to the expected warmer, drier conditions.

(La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, as compared to El Niño, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.)

Last month, NOAA released its national drought forecast, which called for drought conditions in southern Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia in the south, and Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana in the north central U.S.

The forecast released last week reaffirms most of that outlook. "Drought conditions could actually worsen in the Midwest and Great Plains states (Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and northeast Kansas)," Leetmaa said. "Since last month, portions of the affected southern states experienced some relief. However for southern parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, drought conditions are expected to persist," he added.

In July and August, the forecast calls for heavy monsoon rains—another La Niña characteristic—in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Colorado and Utah. Finally, the forecast predicts La Niña will wane by August, when the Pacific Ocean temperatures slowly begin to climb back to normal.

To view the latest drought forecast and accompanying weather maps online, please visit the following Web sites:

NOAA's Drought Information Center
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center — Two Week Lead Outlook
NOAA's El Niño Page
NOAA's La Niña Page

NOAA Media Contacts:
John Leslie, NOAA's National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622.