March 16, 2006 - NOAA released its annual Spring Outlook in conjunction with a news conference in
Phoenix, Arizona. While recent precipitation broke an extended dry spell in parts of the Southwest, emphasis remained
on the continuing long-term drought and wildfire hazards in the southwest, and the central and southern plains through
June 2006. In partnership with the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the products referenced included NIFC’s
National Wildland Fire Outlook, the NOAA led multi-agency U.S. Drought Monitor, and NOAA’s April-June seasonal outlooks
for temperature, precipitation, and drought.
The observed and well predicted, but relatively weak, La Niña is credited with contributing to the drought.
The next significant relief in the southwest will likely be the summer monsoon thunderstorm activity, which
begins in July. While NOAA’s National Hydrologic Assessment does not indicate major flooding potential this
spring, substantial snow pack in parts of the west and northern plains has produced areas of above average flood
risk. These include the Red River of the North, the boundary between North Dakota and Minnesota, and the Ohio
Valley and southern Mississippi regions due to recent rains.