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Mon, June 17

Forecasters predicting warm winter with average precipitation for Kingman

An unusual weather pattern accounted for the Kingman area receiving 1.72 inches of precipitation in October, more than twice the average amount of .76 inches for the month, according to Randy Cerveny, professor of geography at Arizona State University.

"The weather pattern that set up in October was the same pattern we had in the early 1990s when storms came down the coast from the Pacific Ocean, drew in moisture from the tropics and came together over Arizona," he said.

Information supplied by the ASU Office of Climatology indicates Kingman had eight days with measurable rainfall in October.

The area had no precipitation during September.

"We had a series of low pressure systems affecting the West Coast in October," said Andy Gorelow, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

"Every three or four days a system dropped down from the Pacific Northwest, bringing in a lot of moisture.

"October is usually one of our driest months, especially in Las Vegas.

But we got three times as much moisture as normal."

At present, the eastern Pacific Ocean is free of either the La Nina or El Nino weather phenomenon.

In El Nino years, such as the winter of 1997-98, westward trade winds weaken.

That permits a mass of warm water in the western Pacific to flow eastward toward South America and sea surface temperatures can rise by as much as 14 degrees.

During La Nina, easterly trade winds strengthen.

Cold water upwelling intensifies off the coasts of Equador and Peru and sea surface temperatures may fall by eight degrees.

La Nina has dominated since the end of the last El Nino in 1998.

But Cerveny and Gorelow disagree as to whether the lack of either phenomenon makes forecasting more difficult.

"It's much harder for seasonal forecasting," Cerveny said.

"We're used to a rise or fall in sea surface temperatures to tell us what will happen.

Now we'll have to go back into our bag of tricks to see just what if influencing climatic changes."

"You still have weather patterns out there changing all the time, so it's no more difficult or easier to forecast," Gorelow said.

"We'll just follow the jet stream and see which way the storm systems are carried."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in Maryland has forecast warmer than normal temperatures and average amounts of precipitation for northwest Arizona this winter, Gorelow said.

The short-term forecast indicates the Kingman area can expect low pressure systems to move through bringing rain this weekend and in the middle of next week, he said.

"We're not seeing any change in the pattern right now," Gorelow said.

"It's the same thing that has been happening for the past month."

Cerveny agrees that Kingman will experience above normal temperatures in the next three months.

Recently released statistics indicate that northwest Arizona remains locked in the grip of severe drought, despite the rains of October, Cerveny said.

The rest of the state is near normal with the southern portion of the state above normal in terms of soil moisture, he said.

"I've looked at the seasonal forecast and there will be no big changes in precipitation patterns in the next three months," Cerveny said.

"But we can expect above normal temperatures and that does not bode well for the ski industry."


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