Q: Any outlook for the 2012-13 winter?
A: All the big climate indicators are pointing to another warm winter at this time, but that could change pretty rapidly. The big wild card is the Arctic oscillation, which has been held partly responsible from climate experts for some of those record-setting winter storms and cold outbreaks of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 winters. Unfortunately, that climate index is tough to forecast out past a couple of weeks. As for precipitation, there's just not much of a climate signal pointing to above- or below-normal amounts right now. However, just going by climatology, we have to acknowledge that winter is our driest time of the year.
Q: Do you have additional thoughts on this drought?A: All hope is not lost. Mother Nature hasn't written these gloomy forecasts in permanent marker just yet. But we always need to remember the big droughts lurking in our past ... the 1930s Dust Bowl drought and the 1950s drought. People often ask if we are seeing another of those decade-scale droughts, and the answer is “we don't know.” The folks that lived through the first two years of those droughts probably didn't realize it either, however.