LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A prolonged drought that has wreaked havoc on crops throughout much of America’s breadbasket may soon move closer to the Southland.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters predict 2012 will be the warmest year in the U.S. since they began keeping records 118 years ago.

In a teleconference on Thursday, Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, indicated a high level of uncertainty in the agency’s three-month outlook.

Halpert predicted warmer than average temperatures in much of Texas, northward through the central and northern plains, and westward across the southwest, the northern Rockies and the eastern halves of Washington, Oregon and California.

Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and Northern California are also expected to see less rainfall in the coming winter months.

Recent storms have eased drought conditions in several key Midwest farming states after an epic drought sent food prices soaring throughout much of the U.S.

But while he still sees drought conditions moving into Montana, Idaho and part of Oregon and Washington, Halpert has special concern for the West Coast.

“Almost all of the different computer models that I spoke about agreed on one thing, which was that we would see the West Coast – in particular the northwest and central West Coast – be drier than average,” said Halpert.


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