La Nina To Bring Milder, Drier Conditions To Oklahoma

Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 8:49 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma is in for a milder, drier winter than normal thanks to a weather pattern known as La Nina. Long-range forecasts created this month call for more than a 50% chance for above-normal temperatures from November to January in Oklahoma. Smaller percentages exist for a normal winter and for a colder-than-normal winter.

Douglas LeComte, a drought-prediction specialist at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., said the state's weather will be influenced by La Nina, which is characterized by cold ocean waters in the tropical Pacific.

More often that not, that means warmer-than-average winter temperatures for states like Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. It also means a decreased chance for precipitation.

In Oklahoma City, the odds for warmer temperatures are even greater with a 70% chance. The slimmest chances for a warm winter are in northern Oklahoma.

The greatest chance for drought conditions to form during winter will be in far western Oklahoma.

``There's obviously no guarantee, but that's the way the odds are looking,'' LeComte said.

Last winter, a weather pattern in the tropical Pacific known as El Nino set the Sooner State up for a wet, icy winter. El Nino brings warmer ocean waters, the opposite of La Nina.

To come up with long-term forecasts, meteorologists have to rely on large-scale events like El Nino and La Nina that contribute to regional weather patterns, and several lesser-known patterns, LeComte said.

Weather forecasts drop significantly in reliability any more than 10 days in advance because weather patterns change so quickly, he said.

``We do caution people there is a lot of uncertainty in these forecasts,'' LeComte said.

In long-range forecasting, a 50% chance of a forecast being true is actually very good odds, he said.