The current three-month seasonal forecast (Jul-Aug-Sep) from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center shows that in most of the Southeast there is an increased chance of above-average temperatures. There is a slightly elevated chance for drier-than-average conditions for southwestern Alabama and western Florida.

Neutral conditions continue in the Pacific Ocean, but there are strong signs that El Niño conditions will soon be observed.

How to read seasonal forecast maps

A seasonal forecast is often presented by comparing the expected conditions in the coming months to the long-term average conditions during those months (based on recent 30-year monthly averages). Seasonal forecasts are regularly provided as maps with shaded areas indicating the most likely of 3 categories: above average, near average, and below average for seasonal precipitation and temperature.

The 90-day seasonal forecasts of precipitation and temperature are made based on ENSO phase (El Niño, La Niña, Neutral), recent climate trends, soil moisture, and several other factors. The accuracy of these forecasts is generally greater than just using the climate normals (averages from 1981-2010) to forecast climate.

The shaded areas on the maps below show the probability (how likely as a %) that precipitation or temperature is above normal (A), about average (N), or below normal (B). For each location and month, the coldest (or driest) 10 years from the 30 years of 1981-2010 define the “B” below normal category, the warmest (or wettest) 10 years define the “A” above normal category, and the remaining 10 years define the “N” normal category.

Without any forecast, the chance of conditions being in each of the 3 categories is 33.3%. With a forecast, based on ENSO phase and other factors, shading is used to show areas where probability is greater than 33.3%. At any location on the map the probabilities for each of the 3 categories (above normal, near normal, or below normal) adds up to 100%.

An example from the current forecast graphics with this article, consider the 3-month temperature outlook looking at Georgia, which is shaded the second-lightest brown color, means that there is a 50% probability of above-average temperature there for the 3 months of July-August-September. The chance of average conditions is almost always fixed at 33.3%, meaning the chance of below-average temperature for that example for Jul-Aug-Sep is: 100% - 50% - 33.3% = 16.7%.