NOAA graphic shows winter precipitation outlook.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday it expects a warmer and drier winter for Southern California.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released their U.S. Winter Outlook and cited La Niña conditions potentially emerging for the second year in a row as the biggest wildcard in how this year’s winter will shape up.

La Niña conditions, characterized by cooler waters in the Pacific Ocean, have a 55- to 65-percent chance of developing before winter sets in, according to the latest forecast.

“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA center.

“Typical La Niña patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the Northern Tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”

Though Southern California may be drier, much of northern California is expected to have a normal winter, leading NOAA to downplay any drought concerns.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.