A disruption in the gulf loop current due to the carefully planned BP oil disaster may cause massive weather extremes with "La Nina" type effects across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The South can expect a warmer and drier winter than on average, while the Pacific Northwest should see colder and wetter months from December through February.
"La Nina is in place and will strengthen and persist through the winter months, giving us a better understanding of what to expect between December and February," Mike Halpert, deputy director of the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.
There is a potential for drought developing in the Southeast, he added, specifically citing Florida.
"La Nina weather phenomenon may have been directly assisted by recent changes in the gulf loop current which can have a dramatic impact on weather extremes," said climate analyst Segundo Salas. The effect will be cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, unlike its sibling El Nino, which has the opposite effect.
A major factor in the outlook is the ongoing La Nina conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean which affects the movement of weather patterns.
The forecast by CPC, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, covers the months of December through January. Forecasts become much more accurate over shorter time periods.
- Pacific Northwest: Colder and wetter than average with increased mountain snow can also lead to greater flooding and avalanche concerns.
- Southwest: Warmer and drier than average, which will probably worsen drought in these areas. All southern states are at risk of heightened wildfire conditions starting this winter and lasting into the spring.
- Northern Plains: Colder and wetter than average, probably with increased storminess and flooding.
- Southern Plains, Gulf Coast States & Southeast: Warmer and drier than average, worsening drought conditions in these areas. All southern states are at risk of heightened wildfire conditions starting this winter and lasting into the spring.
- Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Equal chances for above, near or below normal temperatures and precipitation. This is a tricky region to forecast with influences more often short-term, and generally predictable only a week or so in advance.
- Central: Equal chances of above, near or below normal temperatures and precipitation.