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Climate Outlook
NORTH AMERICA November 2014 - April 2015

Issued: October 2014

The IRI has prepared this experimental Climate Outlook for North America for November 2014 - April 2015. Of relevance in the preparation of this outlook is a likelihood that the central and eastern tropical Pacific SSTs will be above average during the all four forecast periods, indicative of El Nino. The strength of the El Nino is predicted to be weak to moderate during all four periods, with strongest SST anomaly during the second and third periods. Such tropical Pacific conditions are indicated in the SST predictions on which these climate forecasts are based (SSTs). See the IRI's ENSO update for a discussion on the ENSO outlook (see IRI Probabilistic ENSO forecast). Slightly above-average SST is predicted over the most of the equatorial Indian Ocean for all four forecast periods. SSTs in the tropical Atlantic are predicted to be slightly below average during all four forecast periods along the immediate equator, flanked by slightly above average SST to the north along the western African coast. (November-January 2015, December-February 2015, January-March 2015, February-April 2015).

METHODS -

This Outlook was prepared using the following procedures and information:

A) Coupled ocean-atmosphere model predictions of tropical Pacific SST covering the forecast period. Particularly heavy weighting has been given to predictions from the coupled model operated by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Climate Modeling Branch. This model suggests a continuation of near-average conditions during the first forecast season. The forecast for near-neutral conditions is consistent with some, but not all, numerical and statistical forecasts of central and eastern Pacific SSTs.

B) Forecasts of the tropical Indian ocean using a statistical model developed by the IRI.

C) Global atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) predictions of the atmospheric response to the present and predicted sea-surface temperature patterns.

D) Other sources of information include CPC ; NASA's Seasonal to Interannual Prediction Project (GSFC-NASA) and also seasonal prediction research at COLA.

The procedures, models, and data used to derive this Climate Outlook may be somewhat different from those used by the national meteorological services in the region. Thus, this product may differ from the official forecasts issued in those areas. The Climate Outlook for November 2014 - April 2015 is dependent on the accuracy of the SST predictions. For the tropical Pacific, these predictions can be expected to provide useful information, but there is some uncertainty concerning the evolution of SSTs. Spread in global SST predictions is a source of uncertainty in the Outlook provided here. Note that even if perfectly accurate SST forecasts were possible, there would still be uncertainty in the climate forecast due to chaotic internal variability of the atmosphere. These uncertainties are reflected in the probabilities given in the forecast.

It is stressed that the current status of seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasting allows prediction of spatial and temporal averages, and does not fully account for all factors that influence regional and national climate variability. This Outlook is relevant only to seasonal time scales and relatively large areas; local variations should be expected, and variations within the 3-month season should also be expected. For further information concerning this and other guidance products, users are strongly advised to contact their National Meteorological Services.

OUTLOOK -

This Outlook covers four seasons: November-January 2015, December-February 2015, January-March 2015 and February-April 2015. Maps are given showing tercile probabilities of precipitation and temperature. The maps for precipitation indicate the probabilities that the seasonal precipitation will fall into the wettest third of the years (top number), the middle third of the years (middle number), or the driest third of the years (bottom number). The color shading indicates the probability of the most dominant tercile -- that is, the tercile having the highest forecast probability. The color bar alongside the map defines these dominant tercile probability levels. The upper side of the color bar shows the colors used for increasingly strong probabilities when the dominant tercile is the above-normal tercile, while the lower side shows likewise for the below-normal tercile. The gray color indicates an enhanced probability for the near-normal tercile (nearly always limited to 40%). As before, numbers and their associated histograms show the probabilities of the three terciles. In areas with lots of spatial detail, there may not be sufficient room on the map, to allow histograms for each region. In those cases, some idea of the probabilities may be gained from the color alone. A qualitative outlook of climatology ("C") indicates that there is no basis for favoring any particular category. Areas that are marked by "D" represent regions for which less than 3cm of precipitation typically occurs over the season. Otherwise, for example, in the case of November-January 2015 (Map A), there is a 40% probability that the precipitation will be in the wettest third of the years, a 35% chance it will be in the near-normal third of the years, and a 25% chance that the precipitation will be in the driest third of the years in Uruguay.

Maps of temperature show expected probabilities that the seasonal temperatures will fall into the warmest third of the years, the middle third of the years, or the coldest third of the years (Map A). The numbers for each region on the temperature maps indicate the probabilities of temperatures to fall in each of the three categories, above-, near-, and below-normal.

An additional precipitation map is provided for the first season indicating probabilities for extreme precipitation anomalies. Extremes are defined as anomalies that fall within the top and bottom 15th percentile of the observed records. A priori, there is a 15% probability of being within the extremely wet category, and a 15% probability of being within the extremely dry category, leaving a 70% probability that the precipitation will not be extreme. The maps indicate areas of increased risk of extreme precipitation totals. Three levels of increased risk are defined: slightly enhanced risk, enhanced risk, and greatly enhanced risk. For slightly enhanced risk, there is a 25-40% probability that precipitation will be within the indicated extreme, i.e. wet or dry. This represents an approximate doubling of the climatological risk. For enhanced risk, there is a 40-50% probability that precipitation will be within the indicated extreme. This represents an approximate tripling of the climatological risk. For greatly enhanced risk, the probability that precipitation will be within the indicated extreme exceeds 50%, i.e. the indicated extreme is the most likely outcome. A similar map is provided in the first season indicating probabilities of extreme temperature anomalies.

Boundaries between sub-regions should be considered as transition zones, and their location considered to be only qualitatively correct.

November-January 2015 through February-April 2015

The following tables summarize the precipitation and temperature probability forecasts:



Summary of PRECIPITATION forecast for North America
Leads 1, 2, 3, and 4 refer, respectively, to the upcoming seasons: Nov-Dec-Jan Dec-Jan-Feb Jan-Feb-Mar Feb-Mar-Apr
A non-enhanced probability for above or below normal is 33%. (There is a near-normal category whose non-enhanced probability is also 33%.)
The following countries or regions out of the 24 in North America have at least half of their area under a PRECIPITATION forecast for:
At least At least Highly moderately moderately Highly enhanced enhanced enhanced enhanced probability probability probability probability (55+%) for (45-50%) for (45-50%) for (55+%) for below normal below normal above normal above normal

CUBA lead 3

Summary of TEMPERATURE forecast for North America
Leads 1, 2, 3, and 4 refer, respectively, to the upcoming seasons: Nov-Dec-Jan Dec-Jan-Feb Jan-Feb-Mar Feb-Mar-Apr
A non-enhanced probability for above or below normal is 33%. (There is a near-normal category whose non-enhanced probability is also 33%.)
The following countries or regions out of the 24 in North America have at least half of their area under a TEMPERATURE forecast for:
At least At least Highly moderately moderately Highly enhanced enhanced enhanced enhanced probability probability probability probability (55+%) for (45-50%) for (45-50%) for (55+%) for below normal below normal above normal above normal

BELIZE leads 1,2,3 and 4 BELIZE leads 2,3 and 4 COSTA RICA leads 1,2,3 and 4 COSTA RICA leads 3 and 4 DOMINICAN RP leads 1,2,3 and 4 DOMINICAN RP lead 4 EL SALVADOR leads 1,2,3 and 4 EL SALVADOR leads 3 and 4 GUATEMALA leads 1,2,3 and 4 GUATEMALA leads 2,3 and 4 HAITI leads 1,2,3 and 4
HONDURAS leads 1,2,3 and 4 HONDURAS lead 4 MEXICO lead 1
NICARAGUA leads 2,3 and 4 NICARAGUA lead 4 PANAMA leads 1,2,3 and 4 PANAMA leads 1,3 and 4 CANADA-NWTerr-Yukon lead 1
CANADA-Nunavut leads 1 and 2
CANADA-Sas-Manitoba lead 1
CANADA-Ontario leads 1 and 2
CANADA-Queb-MarProv leads 1 and 2 CANADA-Queb-MarProv leads 1 and 2 USA-Northwest leads 2,3 and 4


OBSERVED CLIMATOLOGY DATA for Nov-Dec-Jan, Dec-Jan-Feb, Jan-Feb-Mar and Feb-Mar-Apr

CLIMATOLOGICAL AVERAGE:

TERCILE THRESHOLDS (33%-ile & 67%-ile):

EXTREME THRESHOLDS (15%-ile & 85 %-ile):

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