|Click to enlarge. This is the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook just released from the Climate Prediction Center|
The attached graphic is the three-month drought outlook, which was
issued this morning by the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction
For Arkansas, the news is not good. For areas already in drought, the
drought is forecast to persist or intensify. For parts of northeastern
and eastern Arkansas, drought is forecast to develop.
A moderate to strong La Nina weather pattern is forecast to occur as we
go from fall into winter. (La Nina is a cooling of the waters in the
equatorial Pacific. It causes a redirection of the jet stream in our
part of the world, and consequently affects the way weather systems
develop and move.) In a La Nina pattern, it is common for Arkansas to
experience below-normal precipitation in the fall.
As we get into fall, we always have more weather systems come through
Arkansas that produce windy conditions. Drought and windy weather will
cause an increase in fire danger. As an example, over the Labor Day
weekend, we had some windy weather. During that time, the Arkansas
Forestry Commission fought at least seven wildfires that burned more
than 100 acres each. The largest fire consumed 670 acres and another
burned 500 acres.
A seasonal outlook cannot foresee what effect dying tropical storms or
hurricanes might have on Arkansas. Thus, there is still a possibility
that a tropical system could cause widespread rain and have an effect on
the drought. However, climatology suggests that as we move toward the
end of the tropical weather season (October and November), chances for a
tropical system affecting Arkansas begin to decrease markedly.
On a more personal note: Everyone has probably heard that the drought
in Texas has resulted in virtually no forage for the cattle.
Consequently, hay is having to be trucked in from other areas. On
Monday, another NWS employee and I traveled to Amity and Alpine in Clark
County on business. As we came back up Interstate 30 from Arkadelphia,
we were amazed at the number of trucks on the interstate that were
hauling hay toward Texas.