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Scientist Weighs Clues and Foresees Rainy, but Not Destructive, Winter

November 28, 1985|ARMANDO ACUNA | Times Staff Writer

LA JOLLA — A well-known San Diego research meteorologist, whose weather predictions once aided the Allied invasion of North Africa in World War II, is forecasting a cold and wet winter for much of the West and Midwest but a comparatively balmy season for the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf states.

The December-through-February forecast by Jerome Namias, head of the climate research group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, expects below-normal temperatures in Northern California and normal temperatures in Southern California.

Except for a section at the northern tip of the state, California's overall rainfall is expected to be heavy, although without the destructive force that accompanied the El Nino current three winters ago when homes were destroyed by pounding surf and mudslides.

No El Nino Expected

"No El Nino has appeared, and we don't expect such a thing this winter," Namias said.

The 90-day forecast of Namias and his colleague, Dan Cayan, is derived from a complex system of data that includes ocean surface temperatures and atmospheric wind systems, along with thousands of temperature readings taken from ships, planes, buoys and satellites.

"A lot of this is objective, but you reach a point there's a certain art, where man comes in front of the machinery and makes a decision," said Namias, noting his previous predictions for seasonal temperatures have been accurate about 65% of the time, while his rain forecasts "are a little lower than that."

Namias' group has been particularly successful in predicting calamitous weather conditions, such as droughts and blizzards.

This winter, Namias said, it is possible that a section of the Northern Rockies and High Plains--northern Idaho and parts of Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota--could experience severe cold during parts of the winter.

Dry, Warm Winter Expected for Florida

In contrast, it is also a possibility that Florida will have a drier and warmer winter than normal.

Namias' forecast shows a belt of cold weather stretching from coastal Northern California and Washington eastward across the Rockies, through the Great Plains to parts of Michigan and Illinois. Normal winter temperatures are expected in a broad belt from Southern California to the middle of Texas.

Above-normal temperatures are forecast for a broad swath of the nation from southern Texas through the Gulf states and north to New York and parts of Vermont.

As far as rain, Namias' group says much of the Midwest to California will experience heavy precipitation. The Northwest, from Oregon and Washington to Wyoming, is expected to have only moderate rain, as is all of the East Coast.

"I'm not forecasting the most common thing," said Namias, noting that heavy rainfall in the West has actually occurred only about a dozen times since 1886.

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