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Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar: November 28, 2023

Event Date
November 28, 2023
Event Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am

This last month has seen above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation across much of the Southeast. The ongoing dryness led to rapidly intensifying and expanding drought across many parts of the region, in particular Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and the interior Carolinas. The lack of precipitation and drought conditions led to below-average streamflows and impacted agriculture, wildfire activity, and water supply. A strong El Niño is already in place and is currently strengthening. 

Looking Ahead:  The weather patterns are changing, with wetter conditions now occurring and expected to continue. There is more optimism and confidence that drought conditions may recede. No new drought development is expected over the winter, although dry conditions are expected to persist in some interior areas. While the strong El Niño conditions increase the chances that we will see recovery from drought, the uptick in rain events often associated with El Niño in this region also increases the chance for flooding through the winter. 

Check out this month’s special presentation, “El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Update + What Might We Expect This Winter?” from Michelle L’Heureux, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.


Introduction and Welcome

Speaker: Chris Fuhrmann, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • This webinar contains a special presentation on “El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Update + What Might We Expect This Winter?”



Climate Conditions 

Speaker: Chris Fuhrmann, Southeast Regional Climate Center

  • Temperatures were above average across the Southeast and U.S. Caribbean.
  • Precipitation was below average across most of the region. Many places recorded less than half of their expected amounts; heavy rainfall was observed across the Florida Peninsula and Keys. Rainfall was spotty across Puerto Rico, while parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands have observed 5–10 inches over the past month.
  • Drought conditions intensified across Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas, where some locations saw a two-category degradation in U.S. Drought Monitor categories. Extreme Drought (D3) emerged across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia; small areas of Extreme Drought (D3) expanded across southern Alabama and Georgia, and persisted along the West Coast of Florida. Drought persisted in northwest Puerto Rico. Abnormal Dryness (D0) was eliminated on St. John; St. Thomas and St. Croix improved from Extreme (D3) to Severe (D2) and Moderate (D1) Drought, respectively.  
  • The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season is nearly over and is running above average in terms of named storms and accumulated cyclone energy.
  • Over the next several weeks, warm and wet weather is expected across much of the region, with some cooler weather expected across parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and northern Florida during the 3-to-4-week period.
  • Over the next three months, temperatures are expected to be above average while precipitation is expected to be near average across the U.S. Caribbean. Drought removal is expected across much of the region. Improvements are expected across the interior, with some dryness persisting across northern Tennessee and the U.S. Caribbean. No new drought development is expected.
  • Additional regional climate and drought information:



Water Resources: Autumn/Winter Flood Outlook 

Speaker: Todd Hamill, Southeast River Forecast Center, National Weather Service

  • 28-day U.S. Geological Survey streamflows are mostly below normal across the Southeast with some pockets of near-normal streamflows. Many streamflows are even lower than usual for this late fall time frame. 
  • Looking Ahead: We are coming out of our quietest time of the year climatologically. Typically, the Southeast U.S. begins to see more weather systems move through the area in the winter. Because the competition for water is much less (lower evapotranspiration rates, lower temperatures, no leaves on the trees, etc.), the rain that we do receive is more productive in producing runoff and recharging streams and reservoirs. The El Niño conditions enhance the chances that we will see recovery from drought, but also give a greater chance for flooding as we go through December and into the winter as more rain events occur. 
  • View additional information.



Agricultural Impacts and Outlook

Speaker: Pam Knox, University of Georgia

  • Dry weather continued to cause problems for forage and small grains, but rain has reduced drought slightly in the most impacted areas.
  • Harvest is nearly done in many areas of the region, but producers continue to plant strawberries and vegetables in less frost-prone areas.
  • Frost affected most of the region except for Florida, coastal areas, and southeast Georgia, ending the growing season for many crops.
  • Wet conditions in Florida have caused issues for citrus and other local crops.
  • Check out the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone interactive map! This new map released last week shows the latest plant hardiness based on the 1991–2020 period. Compared to the 2012 map, the USDA changed more than 50% of the Southeast, designating many regions as a warmer zone.
  • Additional Information:



El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Update + What Might We Expect This Winter?

Speaker: Michelle L’Heureux, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

  • A strong El Niño is already in place and is currently strengthening. There is a 1 in 3 chance of a historically strong El Niño that rivals our strongest El Niño events.  
  • The expected peak (of sea surface temperatures in the Niño-3.4 region) is during the November–January season, but impacts over the United States will lag into the spring seasons.
  • Over the Southeastern region, above-average precipitation (rainfall and snow) is likely. Above-average temperatures are favored toward the north, with “equal chances” for any outcome (below/near/above temperatures) over most of the region. 
  • Expected seasonal impacts are always probabilistic (“% chance of”) and never guaranteed. In the Southeast, remember “the bust” in 1957–58!
  • For more information:



Q&A and Closing

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

  • Register for the next webinars!
    • December 2023: No webinar
    • January 23, 2024: 2023 Southeast Year in Review
    • February 27, 2024: 5th National Climate Assessment: Southeast


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