The University of Arizona

Temperature Outlook | CLIMAS

 SW Climate Outlook

Temperature Outlook

Data between October 2013-March 2014. Data Source: NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC)

The seasonal temperature outlooks issued by the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) in September call for increased chances that temperatures will be similar to the warmest 10 years in the 1981–2010 period for the three-month seasons spanning October through March (Figures 9a–d). These forecasts are based largely on dynamical models, but long-term trends are also used. In recent decades, many areas in Arizona and New Mexico have experienced above-average temperatures. For the October–December period, experimental 2-class temperature forecasts indicate a 60–65 percent chance that temperatures will be above average, and the most likely range of temperature anomalies is between 0.2 and 0.6 degrees F in all of Arizona and New Mexico.


These outlooks predict the likelihood (chance) of above-average, average, and below-average temperature, but not the magnitude of such variation. The numbers on the maps do not refer to degrees of temperature.

The NOAA-CPC outlooks are a 3-category forecast. As a starting point, the 1981–2010 climate record is divided into 3 categories, each with a 33.3 percent chance of occurring (i.e., equal chances, EC). The forecast indicates the likelihood of one of the extremes—above-average (A) or below-average (B)—with a corresponding adjustment to the other extreme category; the “average” category is preserved at 33.3 likelihood, unless the forecast is very strong.

Thus, using the NOAA-CPC temperature outlook, areas with light brown shading display a 33.3–39.9 percent chance of above-average, a 33.3 percent chance of average, and a 26.7–33.3 percent chance of below-average temperature. A shade darker brown indicates a 40.0–49.9 percent chance of above-average, a 33.3 percent chance of average, and a 16.7–26.6 percent chance of below-average temperature, and so on.

Equal Chances (EC) indicates areas where no forecast skill has been demonstrated or there is no clear climate signal; areas labeled EC suggest an equal likelihood of above-average, average, and below-average conditions, as a “default option” when forecast skill is poor.