By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

In 1990, Tony! Toni! Toné!, the R&B trio from Oakland, released their hit song ‘It Never Rains in Southern California.”

For decades now, the words in the hook of that timeless R&B song has become a sort of a go-to jingle (or photo caption) for some proud Southern Californians. They use it to hype up their typically mild winter climate, playfully taunting East Coast or Midwestern family and friends — whether they are grilling outdoors for Thanksgiving or taking a selfie on a beach in the fall.

The “never rains” thing is an exaggeration for sure. On average, Southern California gets about 16 inches of rainfall each year. It is much less than the national annual average (about 38 inches), of course.

And if you were to look at the recent rain and snowstorms across the state over the last month, you would probably bet on wet, cold weather for the rest of winter.

But from now through March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is warning that a warmer and drier winter is ahead, not just for Southern California but for the greater part of the state – from the Mexican border all the way up to just above the Bay Area. That region includes the top 10 counties, by population, where Black Americans live.

Less rain will worsen the already-serious drought conditions in California, especially near the southern border where it has been driest. About 85 % of the state was facing drought in June, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to NOAA, La Nina, an oceanic atmospheric pattern, is the cause of the anticipated dry and warm winter conditions.

The sparsely populated stretch of California that reaches up to the Oregon border up North is expected to get wetter and colder weather winter weather.

“The Southwest will certainly remain a region of concern as we anticipate below-normal precipitation where drought conditions continue in most areas,” said Jon Gottschalk, chief, Operational Prediction Branch at the NOAA.

The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations as snow forecasts are not predictable more than a week in advance.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month. Their latest seasonal precipitation outlook for the first three months of 2022 predict that Southern California will see a 40-50% chance that precipitation will be below normal. The seasonal temperature outlook remains the same.

Seasonal outlooks help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. Their goal is to empower people with actionable forecasts and winter weather tips to build a nation that is ‘weather-ready.’

“Using the most up-to-date observing technologies and computer models, our dedicated forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center produce timely and accurate seasonal outlooks to help communities prepare for the months ahead,” said Michael Farrar, Ph.D., director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

The last water year, which stretched from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, was among the driest ever recorded in California, according to the state’s Department of Water Resources. A year ago, just 12% of California was mired in extreme drought and 15% was drought free, according to data from the federal drought monitor. But as of Oct. 19, about 87% was experiencing at least extreme drought, with over 45% of the state in the most severe “exceptional” category. And no part of the Golden State is without drought.

The Center for Disease Control has outlined resources for communities preparing for potential droughts. Visit here for more information.