Welcome to the seventeenth edition of the Climate and Health Outlook from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE). The Climate and Health Outlook is an effort to inform health professionals and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming months by climate events and provide resources to take proactive action. This webpage includes additional resources and information excluded from the PDF summary, including regional prospective forecasts.
OCCHE and the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) launched the Climate and Health Outlook Portal to accompany this Climate and Health Outlook publication series. This new tool features interactive maps with county-level heat, wildfire, and drought forecasts for the current month along with county-level data on individual risk factors that may make people more vulnerable to negative health outcomes from these climate hazards. Policymakers, health care providers, and the public can use the tool to better understand and plan for the health impacts of climate-related hazards in their communities. OCCHE plans to update the tool with new features including additional climate-related hazard and risk factor data and welcomes user feedback on how it can be improved—please email us at OCCHE@hhs.gov to let us know what you think.
Image source: https://scenarios.globalchange.gov/regions_nca4
U.S. Seasonal Forecast for Health: December 2023
Regional forecasts for winter weather, hurricane, wildfire, and drought
Alaska: Alaska is favored to remain drought-free. Alaska is typically warmer than normal during most El Niño winters. Long-term climate trends also tend to favor warmer-than-normal conditions over the western half of the state. On average, El Niño winters produce 5% less snow statewide.
Northwest: Drought is favored to persist across small portions of Washington, northern Oregon, and northern Idaho with improvement and removal in western Oregon and Washington. Winter temperatures during El Niño tend to be warmer than average in the Northwest, so precipitation tends to fall more as rain, creating unfavorable conditions for building mountain snowpack.
Southwest: Drought is favored to persist across most of New Mexico and Arizona into parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. El Niño tends to be associated with near-to-below average temperatures in the Southwest, but with the addition of recent climate trends, temperatures have been trending near-to-above average.
Hawai’i and Pacific Islands: Drought improvement and removal is forecast across all drought areas of the Hawaiian Islands. Probabilities favor above normal temperatures for Hawai’i, particularly in the western half of the state. For Micronesia, slightly warmer than normal temperatures are favored. American Samoa is expected to experience an increased risk of tropical cyclones through January, with slightly warmer than normal temperatures favored. Above normal significant wildland fire* potential is forecast for the Islands of Hawai’i.
Northern Great Plains: Drought persistence is favored in northwest Montana, southern Wyoming, northern North Dakota, and southeastern South Dakota and Nebraska. During El Niño winters, there is a general trend of below-normal snowfall across the Northern Great Plains.
Southern Great Plains: Drought improvement and removal is forecasted for parts southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas, with persistence forecast for most of Kansas, along with the central and western portions of Texas, and southwestern Oklahoma. Near-normal temperatures are favored in the Southern Great Plains.
Midwest: Drought is favored to persist across most of Iowa, northern Missouri, and southern Illinois and Indiana, along with parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Drought improvement and removal is favored in southern Missouri. There is a general trend for below-normal snowfall across the Midwest during El Niño winters, and there is typically less ice on the Great Lakes.
Southeast: Drought is favored to persist across most of Kentucky, western Virginia, northern Tennessee, along with portions of western North Carolina. Drought improvement and removal is favored for most of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, along with portions of northern and southern Georgia, northern South Carolina, northwestern North Carolina, central and eastern Virginia, southeastern Arkansas, southern Tennessee and western Florida. The Southeast experiences some of the strongest El Niño impacts with wetter-than-average conditions favored from the Carolinas to the central Gulf Coast. El Niño winters tend to have higher snowfall than average in parts of Virginia into the southern Appalachians.
Northeast: Most of the Northeast is forecasted to remain drought-free, except for small portions of West Virginia and western New York where drought is forecast to persist. Drought improvement and removal is forecast in Maryland into southeastern Pennsylvania. Snowfall tends to be above normal during El Niño winters in most of the Mid-Atlantic and below normal in northern New York and interior New England. Above-normal temperatures are generally favored with the greatest chance over northern New York and New England.
Caribbean: Drought persistence is likely in drought areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Above-normal temperatures have been ongoing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island since late April, and this trend is expected to continue into the winter months due in part to the prolonged marine heat wave that is affecting the Atlantic Basin.
*Smoke from wildfires can impact health hundreds of miles from site of the fire.
Winter weather forecasts are drawn from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Winter Outlook, drought forecasts from NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System, wildfire forecasts from the National Interagency Coordination Center, and hurricane forecasts from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
You can learn more about climate hazards, the ways they impact health, and resources to protect yourself and your community here:
- Extreme Heat
- Lyme and Other Tickborne Diseases
- West Nile Virus and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases
- Spring Flooding
- Winter Weather
Thank you to the partners who provide invaluable information, expertise, and da ta for the Climate and Health Outlook series, including the Administration for Children and Families; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health; Department of Agriculture; Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Climate Prediction Center, National Centers for Environmental Information, National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center, National Integrated Drought Information System, National Integrated Heat Health Information System, and National Water Center; National Interagency Fire Center; Bureau of Land Management; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; United States Geological Survey; the California Air Resources Board; the Oregon Health Authority; the San Mateo County Health Department; the USA National Phenology Network; Atlanta Allergy & Asthma; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; the Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit; and the California Department of Public Health.