Dry, Warm Southeast Winter will Worsen Drought

October 30, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
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AccuWeather.com Expert Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi released his 2010-11 Winter Forecast last week, and he expects a dry, warm and virtually non-existent winter for much of the southern half of the country.

This forecast will not bode well with many portions of the Southeast, which endured a debilitating drought for the past several months, mostly due to a displaced Bermuda High and a lack of tropical activity in the region.

The Bermuda High, typically positioned over the western Atlantic Ocean during the summer months, was found farther west over the South for much of the summer months. This not only led to the warm summer the region endured, but it also deflected a large amount of precipitation to the north.

"[The winter will be] not as cold as last year, not as much snow in the big areas across the south and east," Bastardi said.

With the exception of Tropical Depression 5, the South has been spared the majority of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season's activity. Although hurricanes can be devastating for the Southern states, the area relies heavily on precipitation tropical storms bring.

This lack of tropical activity has added to the South's drought woes. To put matters into perspective, Birmingham, Ala. has recorded just 60 percent of their normal rainfall from June through September.

As hurricane season makes way for wintertime, a La Niña winter will move into place over the next several months.

During a La Niña winter, the southern jet stream moves northward, taking with it a significant amount of precipitation. The lower half of the country experiences dry, mild conditions throughout the season.

Although a La Niña pattern is not supportive of precipitation in the region, that does not eliminate the possibility of heavy downpours or even snow, according to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist and Southeast Expert Frank Strait said.

"There may be some ice events...farther north there's going to be enough intrusion of cold air to the Greensboros and Roanokes to [have] some concern every now and then, but overall, a warm winter there too.," Bastardi added.

As for Texas, Bastardi said the state will not see the winter conditions they experienced last year.

I think Texas has a non-winter overall," he said. "There's going to be some fronts into Dallas and maybe a freezing rain or two event...very, very different this year. No back-to-back bad winter in Texas."

Following the La Niña winter, Strait said that Southerners should be optimistic for rain during the spring months, as this is also a crucial time for precipitation before the warm summer settles in.

Be sure to check out Joe Bastardi's complete 2010-11 Winter Forecast and check back with AccuWeather.com through the coming weeks as we continue to forecast the upcoming winter conditions.


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