Our Dry Weather: What's Causing It? When Will It End?

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RENO, NV - We're now at the half way point of our traditional winter snow pack season and so far we've only seen our drought continue and deepen.

Those who watch our weather and climate however, continue to look for reasons to be optimistic.

It isn't easy.

"This a pattern of extremes," says KOLO 8 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Thompson. "Somebody's getting too much. Somebody else is getting too little and unfortunately drought is the most complex of all types of weather."

Dr. Kelly Redmond of the Desert Research Institute and the Western Regional Climate Center agrees.

"The way the arrows are lining up most are pointing to the dry side,."

The question is what's causing this long spell of dry weather and how long is it going to last.

When the rest of us come to these guys asking that kind of question we're always looking for a simple answer.

The truth is our climate is an extremely complex mechanism and it's likely there are a number of things at work.

One of them is intriguing however.

It's a patch of unusually warm water in the north Pacific.

"What we've seen in the past is that when there are such patches of warm water in that position in the winter, they are related to periods on the West Coast of reduced precipitation," says Dr. Redmond who is quick to add there may be several other factors affecting things.

The bad news is, if it is playing a role, it may be around for awhile.

"Just as we make forecasts for the atmosphere. There are many people making forecasts of the ocean," says Redmond, "and those forecasts are showing that this patch may stick around for awhile and by awhile I mean for the next two or three months or so."

That's discouraging to meteorologists like Thompson.

"Coming off three years of drought and looking at a ridge type pattern holding for months at a time. Looking at anomalies like that playing into this anything that continues to perpetuate this blocking pattern is bad news."

All of this is sounding pessimistic, but there are some hopeful signs.

Redmond points to climate models which indicate a wetter period in the weeks ahead.

Thompson sees a flattening of that ridge, a promise at least of a change sometime around Super Bowl Sunday.

"I'm optimistic at least of seeing something different by the time we get out 8 to 10 days or so."

Of course a change in patterns, even a few storms wouldn't mean an end to the drought especially at this point on the calendar.

That would take a Miracle March or an Amazing April.

At the moment that doesn't seem likely, but you never know.

This is northern Nevada weather we're talking about after all.