Seasonal Climate Forecasts: Summary of Current Opportunities across the Contiguous United States.
Jeanne M. Schneider, Jurgen D. Garbrecht, and Jean L. Steiner. USDA ARS Grazinglands Research Laboratory, 7207 West Cheyenne St., El Reno, OK 73036
Seasonal climate forecasts have been issued operationally since December 1994 by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for the contiguous United States. These probabilistic forecasts predict total precipitation and average air temperature, covering overlapping 3-month periods out to a full year ahead, for relatively large regions. Reliable forecasts present opportunities for better planning and management in response to seasonal climate variations. Unfortunately, forecast skill scores offered by CPC combine the performance of all forecasts issued at a particular time across the contiguous United States. This makes it impossible to determine the skill of the forecasts for a particular region, or to determine if the skill differs with direction (wet versus dry, or warm versus cool). An alternative measure of forecast utility has been developed and applied to individual forecast divisions (each approximately 9 x 104 km2), making it possible to examine the utility of forecasts by region, forecast direction, and season. This utility measure identifies the "where, when, and how" of current opportunities offered by CPC's seasonal climate forecasts.