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Warmer and drier than average winter expected for Texas

La Niña should play a role in Texas’ winter weather for the second-straight year
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:31 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Just one week after NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said La Niña conditions have developed for the second year in a row, NOAA has released their updated seasonal temperature and precipitation outlook for winter stating Texas likely will experience drier and warmer than normal conditions.

In Thursday’s press release, forecasters cite the developing La Niña as a major factor in the winter outlook.

“Consistent with typical La Nina conditions during winter months, we anticipate below-normal temperatures along portions of the northern tier of the U.S. while much of the South experiences above-normal temperatures,” said Jon Gottschalck, the chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center.

The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the...
The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the latest forecast for Winter 2021-2022. The temperature outlook shows a high chance of above normal temperatures in Texas and the Southeastern U.S.(KWTX, NOAA)
The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the...
The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the latest forecast for Winter 2021-2022. The precipitation outlook shows most of Texas will likely see lower-than-normal amounts of precipitation from December through February.(KWTX, NOAA)

During a La Niña winter, both the polar jet stream and the Pacific jet stream are typically found across the northern United States and into Canada keeping the coolest and wettest conditions away from Texas.

A more northerly polar jet stream helps to keep colder air bottled to our north, but it’s typically more variable and prone to changes compared to normal. A variable polar jet often dips deep into the United States and sends occasional shots of Canadian and Arctic air into the lower latitudes.

Similarly, the Pacific jet stream staying away means less moisture in the atmosphere and thus generally drier conditions. However, La Niña winters are often more associated with a higher probability of tornadoes and hail events when storm systems do move through.

The latest drought monitor shows abnormally dry conditions starting to creep back into Central Texas after late September and mid-October rains stopped a developing drought in it’s tracks, but the expectation of an usually dry winter means drought conditions are expected to develop across much of the state.

The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the...
The Climate Prediction Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released the latest forecast for Winter 2021-2022. With drier conditions forecast for Texas, drought-like conditions are expected to develop during the beginning of 2022.(KWTX, NOAA)

A repeat of the February 2021 Texas winter storm is unlikely, considering how many pieces combined together at just the right time to bring us those conditions, but Central Texas will likely experience multiple nights of sub-freezing temperatures this winter if the polar jet stream moves into the Continental United States. Winter precipitation, in some form, is also expected too since every single year since 1944 has seen at least a trace of snowfall or other wintry precipitation at the Waco Airport.

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