Drought conditions likely to develop in Central Florida this winter

Upcoming season expected to be drier, warmer than normal

Drought outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Unless you’re a snowbird, Florida isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind when you mention winter, but the season does impact the Sunshine State. While it may not be with ice and snow, it is with storms and drought.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its annual winter forecast for the country Thursday. The southern tier of the U.S. is expected to be drier and warmer than normal. In addition, most of the Florida Peninsula has been highlighted for the likelihood of drought conditions developing during the winter months of December, January and February.

This is on top of what has already been a dry year for most of Central Florida.

Year-to-date rainfall

This combination of a dry and warmer-than-normal winter could spell critical fire weather conditions. Florida’s wildfire season typically runs from late winter through early spring. The wet season usually arrives in mid-to-late May ending the widespread wild fire threat.

Typical La Nina

It is typical in a La Nina pattern for this part of the world to be drier and warmer than normal. Earlier this month, a La Nina was officially declared by the Climate Prediction Center.

La Nina is a climate pattern that can last for several years and can affect weather around the world. El Nino is La Nina’s counterpart. The La Nina is expected to last through the winter.

[RELATED: Here’s what La Nina means for hurricane season | What it means for La Nina or El Nino to be present ]

For the northern tier of the country, La Nina typically brings brutal cold and rounds of snow. This is particularly true for the Great Lakes region, Northern Plains and Upper Midwest as the polar jet stream plunges south from Canada and points north.

The polar jet stream is a ribbon of air that resides where jet aircraft fly and is the dividing line between cool air to its south and Arctic air to the north.

A cold and wet winter is forecast for the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. A wet and warm winter is expected for the Great Lakes region and interior New England.

Precipitation outlook for the upcoming winter

The big nor’easters that are notorious for dumping snow along the I-95 corridor in the Northeast are more common during an El-Nino year due to a more active subtropical jet stream. This active subtropical jet stream typically brings a wet winter and a higher likelihood of severe weather to Florida.

The polar and subtropical jet streams

The subtropical jet hangs out in the tropics, also about the height where jet aircraft fly and is the dividing line between relatively cool air to its north and tropical air to its south.

An El Nino is not expected to develop for the upcoming winter.


About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.