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Another warm, dry winter in store for Los Angeles

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No relief from the drought in sight

This is starting to feel normal: Warm and dry weather in Los Angeles.

That’s the new forecast for this fall and winter, which, depressingly, predicts that we won’t be wrested from the grasp of the drought any time soon.

The National Weather Service issued its winter outlook Thursday, predicting warmer than normal conditions across the southern U.S. and a continued drought, “in many regions currently experiencing drought, including much of California and the Southwest.”

In a separate statement, the Weather Service said to expect above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall amounts the rest of this fall in Southern California.

If these predictions hold true, the region could see its sixth consecutive year of below-normal rainfall.

The forecasts were released the same day an autumn heatwave set new temperature records across Los Angeles. It was 97 degrees at LAX, besting a 1999 record of 95 degrees. And temperatures climbed to a sweltering 99 degrees at Long Beach Airport, overtaking the 1965 record of 98 degrees.

How reliable are these seasonal predictions? El Nino, after all, was supposed to bring us rain last winter, but those storms never made their way to Southern California. A measly 6.88 inches of rain fell on LA during the last “water year,” the period from October 2015 to September 2016—that’s just 46 percent of normal.

Long term forecasts can be a crapshoot, Michelle Mead, a National Weather Service meteorologist told the Sacramento Bee last month. “We don’t know what exactly we’re going to get, and it’s going to be storm-by-storm dependent.”

According to the Bee:

The uncertainty lies in what forecasters describe as neutral conditions in the vast area of the Pacific Ocean that creates El Niño or La Niña weather patterns. When the surface of the Pacific warms, it’s more likely to lead to the wet years typically associated with El Niño. Conversely, cooler ocean temperatures often produce drier La Niña conditions in California. This year, it’s neither warm enough nor cool enough to make a call.

Yesterday, the Weather Service decided to put its money on La Niña, predicting the climate phenomenon, which favors warmer, drier winters in the Southern U.S., is likely to develop in late fall or early winter.

Well, on the bright side, here’s to a Thanksgiving dinner that you’ll likely be able to host outside in the sunshine.