The National Weather Service wanted to add perspective to my blog item this week about the drought winter and the federal long-term forecast of slightly above average precipitation in Central and Southern California.
Much of this region is below average, including the Sierra Nevada at less than 20% of its average for March.
As I wrote, the science isn’t in a place where it can consistently hit the mark yet. Meteorologist Paul Iniguez in Hanford offered more detail about the forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
He said the forecast is more appropriately called a “probabilistic outlook.” The outlook should be interpreted to say there is a 40% chance that the winter would see “above normal” rainfall in a place such as Fresno.
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So, there’s still a 33% chance it would be “near normal” and a 26% chance it would end up being “below normal,” he said. He emailed the link to an animated chart showing how the probabilities can increase, yet there is still a chance something else will happen.
“The climate die was rolled this winter with a 1:4 chance it’d come up below average, and it did,” he said. “Not the most likely outcome, but a very real possibility.”