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United States streamflow probabilities based on forecasted La Nina, winter-spring 2000

January 1, 1999

Although for the last 5 months the TahitiDarwin Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has hovered close to normal, the “equatorial” SOI has remained in the La Niña category and predictions are calling for La Niña conditions this winter. In view of these predictions of continuing La Niña and as a direct extension of previous studies of the relations between El NiñoSouthern Oscil-lation (ENSO) conditions and streamflow in the United States (e.g., Redmond and Koch, 1991; Cayan and Webb, 1992; Redmond and Cayan, 1994; Dettinger et al., 1998; Garen, 1998; Cayan et al., 1999; Dettinger et al., in press), the probabilities that United States streamflows from December 1999 through July 2000 will be in upper and lower thirds (terciles) of the historical records are estimated here. The processes that link ENSO to North American streamflow are discussed in detail in these diagnostics studies. Our justification for generating this forecast is threefold: (1) Cayan et al. (1999) recently have shown that ENSO influences on streamflow variations and extremes are proportionately larger than the corresponding precipitation teleconnections. (2) Redmond and Cayan (1994) and Dettinger et al. (in press) also have shown that the low-frequency evolution of ENSO conditions support long-lead correlations between ENSO and streamflow in many rivers of the conterminous United States. (3) In many rivers, significant (weeks-to-months) delays between precipitation and the release to streams of snowmelt or ground-water discharge can support even longer term forecasts of streamflow than is possible for precipitation. The relatively slow, orderly evolution of El Niño-Southern Oscillation episodes, the accentuated dependence of streamflow upon ENSO, and the long lags between precipitation and flow encourage us to provide the following analysis as a simple prediction of this year’s river flows.

Publication Year 1999
Title United States streamflow probabilities based on forecasted La Nina, winter-spring 2000
Authors M. D. Dettinger, D.R. Cayan, K.T. Redmond
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Experimental Long-Lead Forecast Bulletin
Index ID 70174920
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization San Francisco Bay-Delta; Pacific Regional Director's Office