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Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar: December 14, 2021

Event Date
December 14, 2021
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

Following an active tropical season and wet summer, the Southeast region is becoming drier. A below-normal amount of precipitation for this time of year is leading to lower streamflows and drought conditions, especially in the Carolinas and parts of Virginia. The current La Niña is expected to continue through the winter, with drier and warmer than normal conditions predicted for much of the region.


Introduction and Welcome

Speaker: Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • Webinar focus: Climate and special topics pertaining to the Southeast region.
  • Our special topic today is the La Niña/ENSO Outlook.



Climate Conditions 

Speaker: Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • Overall, temperatures last month were near average, and precipitation was below average, with much-below-average precipitation in Virginia and the Carolinas. 
  • The Atlantic Tropical Season has ended, with 21 named storms, including 7 hurricane, 4 of which were major. Read a season summary here
  • Very little severe weather was reported in the last month, which is unusual. 
  • Dry conditions continue to expand across the region, with drought conditions most pronounced in the Carolinas, Virginia, and parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drought is expected to persist and expand in the Southeast. For additional information on Southeast drought conditions, read the December 13 Southeast Drought Status Update.
  • La Niña conditions have developed and are expected to continue with a 95% chance through winter 2021–22 and a transition to ENSO-neutral during spring 2022 (60% chance April–June).
  • The December 18–22 outlook has a higher probability of warmer temperatures and a probability of wetter conditions across the entire region. 
  • The seasonal outlook depicts warmer-than-normal conditions, and drier conditions in some areas, which is a typical La Niña pattern for winter. The next Climate Prediction Center seasonal outlook will be released on December 16.



Water Resources and Winter Outlook 

Speaker: Jeff Dobur, Southeast River Forecast Center, National Weather Service

  • Streamflows continue to generally fall across the Southeast with the drier weather. The Carolinas are mostly below normal at this time.
  • Dry weather and lower streamflow observed are typical with La Niña.
  • December begins the Southeast river flood season.
  • Looking ahead: The winter river flood outlook calls for river flooding to be less extensive and of less magnitude than typical based on La Niña, trends, and the Climate Prediction Center outlooks. Water resources may become more of an issue by late winter if the dry trend continues and expands.
  • Additional information is available through the Southeast River Forecast Center.



Agriculture Impact and Outlook

Speaker: Pam Knox, University of Georgia 

  • Dry weeks have allowed fieldwork, planting, and harvest to catch up and have provided great planting conditions for onions.
  • There is a slow increase in dry conditions, but it is not a major threat to crops at this point.
  • Frost ended growing conditions in northern areas. Freeze maps are found via the Midwest Regional Climate Center.
  • Chill hours are below normal, and this is expected to continue for the next month. Access the chill hours calculator.
  • Looking ahead: Warm conditions should keep frost away for the next couple of weeks. La Niña will continue at least through early spring.
  • Additional information: Sign up for the Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast: Blog.



Special Presentation: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Update + Seasonal Outlooks 

Speaker: Michelle L’Heureux, Climate Prediction Center, National Weather Service

  • Currently, there is a La Niña Advisory.
  • La Niña is favored to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2021–22 (~95% chance) and transition to ENSO-neutral during the spring 2022 (~60% chance during April–June).
  • The winter (December–February) seasonal outlook is informed by various climate models. La Niña and the Trend are prominent drivers in these predictions.
  • For additional details and ENSO background:
  • For questions or additional information on the above products, contact Michelle L’Heureux.




Speaker: Meredith Muth, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)


About This Webinar

The Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar Series is hosted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and the NOAA National Weather Service. These webinars provide the region with timely information on current and developing climate conditions such as drought, floods, and tropical storms, as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers may also discuss the impacts of these conditions on topics such as agriculture production, water resources, wildfires, and ecosystems.


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