SoCal 2014 water year forecast: Dryness, but…

For California, the Department of Water Resources releases an "experimental" long-term forecast, based on ocean indices. Lead forecaster Dr. Klaus Wolter of NOAA predicts — as he did last year — dryness, but opens the door to the possibility of an El Nino developing in spring.

The forecast's three central predictions for the 2014 water year:

► Mostly dry conditions for most of California, with dry conditions being especially likely in Southern
► Near-normal to drier than normal for the Colorado River Basin, an important source of water supply for Southern California, although not as dry as in water year 2013.
►A small chance of a spring shift to El Niño conditions that could bring wetter weather for Southern
California late in the season.

However, a look at a suite of projections appears a bit more promising for El Nino:


The forecasters write:

Most of the set of dynamical and statistical model predictions issued during late October and early November 2013 predict neutral ENSO conditions through the rest of 2013 and into early 2014, with a warming tendency during northern spring and summer 2014. Development of weak El Nino conditions appears possible by the middle of 2014. In the most recent week, the SST anomaly in the Nino3.4 region was 0.0C. Based on the multi-model mean predictions, and the expected skill of the models by start time and lead time, the probabilities (X100) for La Nina, neutral and El Nino conditions (using -0.5C and 0.5C thresholds) over the coming 9 seasons are:

Season La Ni�a Neutral El Ni�o
NDJ 2014 1% 99% ~0%
DJF 2014 3% 96% 1%
JFM 2014 4% 92% 4%
FMA 2014 5% 84% 11%
MAM 2014 5% 74% 21%
AMJ 2014 7% 59% 34%
MJJ 2014 10% 48% 42%
JJA 2014 8% 44% 48%
JAS 2014 9% 43% 48%

Another way to look at it might be — we have a substantially better chance of El Nino (which tends to mean a warmer, wetter spell) than a La Nina (which tends to mean a drier, colder conditions). 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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