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Northeast winter predicted to be warmer than average, while drought will end in parts of Mass., NOAA says

This seasonal U.S. Drought Outlook map for November 2022 through January 2023 predicts persistent widespread drought across much of the West, the Great Basin, and the central-to-southern Great Plains.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Drought is likely to continue across more than half the country this winter as La Niña returns for a third straight year, bringing warmer-than average temperatures to the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf Coast, and Southwest, according to a winter outlook released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Drought conditions are expected to end, though, in parts of Cape Cod, Northern Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

Massachusetts is expected to see precipitation this winter within the average range, though temperatures will likely be higher than usual.


Conditions are forecast to be wetter than usual in portions of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, northern Rocky Mountains, and Pacific Northwest, officials said.

“Drought conditions are now present across approximately 59 percent of the country, but parts of the Western United States and southern Great Plains will continue to be the hardest hit this winter,” Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement. “With the La Niña climate pattern still in place, drought conditions may also expand to the Gulf Coast.”

Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting for AER, a Massachusetts-based atmospheric research firm, said NOAA’s predictions dovetail with his expectations for the coming winter.

“I would definitely lean on a milder winter, especially east of the Rockies,” Cohen said. “Wetter to the north, drier to the south.”

Drought is expected affect the middle and lower Mississippi Valley this winter, and drought conditions are likely to develop across the South-central and Southeastern part of the country, while conditions are expected to improve in the Northwest, according to NOAA.

Wildfires will remain a risk, and some parts of the country will likely be in greater danger than before, said Brad Pugh, the operational drought lead with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.


Forecasters from NOAA in collaboration with the National Integrated Drought Information System will continue monitoring extreme drought conditions that have lasted since late 2020 in the Western United States and parts of the Central US, officials said.

Drought has had major consequences in states like California in recent years, including hurting agriculture operations, spurring water use cutbacks and elevating the risk of wildfires. NOAA’s prediction does call for improved conditions in some drought areas, including parts of Montana and Idaho, but the outlook is for a deepening drought in many others.

Warmer than average temperatures are most likely in western Alaska, the Central Great Basin, and the Southwest through the Southern Plains, but are also expected along the Atlantic coast and in the Southeast, according to the outlook.

Western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, northern Rocky Mountains, and Ohio Valley are most likely to see wetter-than-average conditions, officials said. California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, Southern Plains, Gulf Coast, and much of the Southeast are likely to experience drier than average conditions.

The outlook does not include snowfall projections because snow forecasts are usually not possible to predict more than a week in advance, NOAA said.

NOAA’s forecast is similar to projections from computer-based models, said Ryan Maue, a private meteorologist based in Atlanta.

Many parts of the country that could use a wet or snowy year are unlikely to get one, he said.

“I think the bottom line is we’re on a continuation of what we’ve been seeing over the last year, including last winter, and there’s not expected to be improvement in the drought situation across California and the center of the United States,” Maue said.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox.