- An eastward shift in the North Pacific high-pressure area essentially shut off the faucet for the west. The result was a whiplash from a wet December to near record-breaking dry in January.
- January was largely warmer than average* over the west, with the exception being inland valleys in the PNW, where stagnant air led to inversions with cold air at the surface and prolonged fog occurrence.
- While drought concerns were lowered in December, they roared back in January. Over 95% of the west is still in some level of drought, but the good news remains that the most severe to exceptional drought conditions have dropped to ~20%. Chances for drought improvement remain but are disappearing with every dry day.
- The eastward shift of the Pacific high-pressure area in January has the west largely locked into a dry first half of February. The forecast for the second week of February is pointing to colder conditions, but not clear on precipitation at this point but my read of the models says near average north, below average south.
- The second half of winter continues to be strongly influenced by cool SSTs in both the northern and tropical Pacific. The current seasonal forecast is calling for a cool spring for most of the west, with near-average precipitation in the PNW and drier than average south and east.