5 Good Ways to Get Beyond Weather Forecasts

“So, what is the weather going to be like?” How many times have you said this or someone has asked you this. If someone says this in our family and no one knows, the rule of etiquette dictates whoever is connected to whatever mobile device at the moment has to check the weather forecast.

It’s the rule.

As a consultant in water resources, I often get asked about the long-term water trends. So, every once in awhile, probably not enough, I try to zoom out and see what kind of water, climate, and weather trends are out there.

I thought this morning I would share my Top 5 list.

1. Southeast River Forecast Center Journal

I added this blog to one of my regular feeds earlier this year. They do a great job. It is written by the National Weather Service’s Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC) located in Peachtree City, Georgia. They usually post 1 to 3 posts a week. Good stuff.

2. Climate Prediction Center National Maps
This set of National Maps gives a sense what the future holds. I usually glance down and click on this map.

U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook Map
U.S Seasonal Drought Outlook Map (NOAA)

3. Drought Monitor for the Southeast
This has always been my standby. In fact, last year I wrote a blog post about the Drought Monitor just so I could learn a little more about them. Remember, new maps come out every Thursday morning.

4. Weekly ENSO Update
If I am more adventurous, I also check the ENSO conditions. ENSO, you say? El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, I say. Specifically I look at the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) which NOAA uses for identifying El Niño (warm) and La Niña (cool) events in the tropical Pacific. Why do I care what is happening out there? Because La Niña generally means a higher chance for drought here.

ONI Data since 1950 (El Nino)
ONI Data since 1950

As you can see from the chart, El Niño typically lasts 9-12 months, while La Niña typically lasts 1-3 years. Right now, there is a 50% chance that El Niño conditions will develop during the second half of 2012.  So, I suppose it’s a toss of the coin.

5. USGS’s WaterWatch

No list would be complete without the humble USGS.  I like this site because it gives me the most mapping options with minimal typical government web clunkiness.