NCPP Missouri River Basin La Nina Pilot - November 2011 - May 2012

Link to Missouri River Basin Climate Outlook Webinars

Flooding near Rockport, MO, July 2011.
Image courtesy of Doug Kluck, NOAA Regional Climate Services Director.)

The National Climate Prediction and Projection Platform is conducting a Missouri River Basin La Niña Pilot Project to provide climate information at regional scale for the Missouri Basin. The climate information will include outlooks for two weeks to several seasons and possibly beyond. The information is intended to inform planning and decision-making by federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, businesses and other organizations with interests in the basin.

Pilot activities will include webinars and other activities aimed at federal, tribal, state and local governments, businesses, and the media, and an evaluation component. This website will be updated regularly to announce the webinars, and will provide links to archived briefings, relevant articles, and links to forecast information and relevant information portals.

The jet streams are high-altitude, racing rivers of air that can influence the path of storms as they track over North America from the Pacific Ocean. The jet streams meander and shift from day to day, but during La Niña events, they tend to follow paths that bring cold air and storms into the Upper Missouri River Basin.
(Image based on original graphics from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center; Adapted by Richard Rivera & Hunter Allen; NOAA Climate Watch Magazine, Nov 10, 2011.)

Pilot activities will allow producers and users of NOAA climate information an opportunity to talk directly and discuss concerns and needs, including the short and long-term implications of forecasts and climate events. In addition to monthly webinars, planned activities include a town hall meeting is planned during the AMS annual meeting in New Orleans in January 2012. 

Background: After a summer hiatus, the tropical Pacific phenomenon known as La Niña returned in August 2011. Every year NOAA monitors environmental conditions and provides operational forecasts of climate anomalies such as La Niña and their associated impacts to assist interagency efforts to prepare and respond. Climate outlooks through next spring anticipate greater than normal chances for a colder and wetter pattern to develop in the northern Missouri basin as a result of La Niña.  Resulting impacts include increases in the potential for major flooding in the north-central U.S. in the spring and summer of 2012 and for ongoing drought conditions over the south-central U.S. 

Summary: This summary is prepared based on analyses done during the period of the pilot, on the information from the seasonal outlooks and on observational data. As the fall/winter season progressed the climate outlooks indicated that the conditions would slowly transition from a potential for cold and snow rich season leading to possible flooding in the following spring and summer to warmer and drier conditions. (see Webinar key points) The La Nina event started fading in February and slowly transitioned to ENSO Neutral conditions in May. Another mode of climate variability came again into play this winter – the Arctic Oscillation. (See FAQ). The change in the sign of the Arctic Oscillation from a negative phase to a positive phase in January contributed to warmer and drier winter and spring months. The stronger circulation around the North Pole was not conducive to cold air outbreaks directed to the south as it happened last year. In addition, the storm track being located further to the north did not contribute to an increase in precipitation and snow accumulation. The risk of flooding decreased steadily throughout the season and drier conditions potentially conducive to fires started dominating by the end of the period.

Last Update: Oct. 16, 2013, 2:39 p.m. by Galina Guentchev
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