This week's National Drought Monitor reflects the return of warm, dry weather to the nation’s southern tier, which could suggest an increasingly La Nina-driven atmospheric regime. "If true, a return to dryness would not be favorable for the south-central U.S., where long-term drought retains a grip," states the monitor.
Meanwhile, enough precipitation fell in some areas of the Northern Plains and Midwest to stave off further expansion of drought, but more abnormal dryness (D0) was introduced in western North Dakota. High temperatures remained at record-setting levels in the north-central U.S., with Bismarck, North Dakota (55°F on January 3), among a large number of stations reporting daily-record highs in early 2012, notes the monitor.
In its outlook for January 5-9, forecasts say warmth expanding eastward from the western and central U.S. will gradually displace cold air in the East. "Some light precipitation will fall across the Southeast and from the Great Lakes region into northern New England. Elsewhere, significant precipitation will be limited to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. Some light precipitation may occur toward the end of the period in the Great Basin and the Southwest," it states.
The CPC 6- to 10-day outlook for January 10-14 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures across the contiguous U.S., except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the southern Atlantic region. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation from California to the central and southern Plains will contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in parts of the Southeast and across the nation’s northern tier.