Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - The drought of 2023 is burned (no pun intended) into the memories of every Louisiana resident. The average person is still feeling the effects, whether it's due to crawfish prices and availability or cracked slabs and buckled roads still needing repair. The questions about whether we will have a repeat lingers in the minds of every person in the Bayou State. Will obnoxiously dry conditions and sweltering heat dominate 2024?

KATC Meteorologist Daniel Phillips (Lafayette, Louisiana) has become a fixture on Acadiana's Morning News on KPEL 96.5, sharing his weather knowledge and how his circle arrives at their forecasts. Daniel was quick to explain that meteorologists do their best to predict "right now" or short-term weather. They leave the job of long-range forecasting to climatologists who study a different set of data to formulate seasonal outlooks.

The weather phenomenon El Nino was responsible for the hot, dry weather Louisiana and most of the Lower Mississippi Valley saw in 2023. While extreme events are nearly unpredictable, El Nino does typically cause a wetter winter and drier summer, and that's exactly what Acadiana has seen.

Most of Louisiana is starting 2024 with above average rainfall. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that areas around Lafayette, Shreveport, Monroe, and in southeast Louisiana are drought-free. The Lake Charles area hasn't climbed out of the arid hole completely. Vernon Parish and parts of Beauregard and Rapides Parishes are still experiencing a moderate drought.

Louisiana drought map
U.S. Drought Monitor

Daniel even admits that the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon can be confusing but, essentially, they both deal with the water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that affect the weather across North America.

The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service has issued its outlook for the middle part of 2024, and the news is cautiously optimistic.

Climatologists indicate that North America is in a transitional pattern that will shift us from El Nino in early Spring to La Nina in late Summer.

So what does that mean?

Warm and wet conditions are on the menu for Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Monroe and all points in between for the next few months. The Bayou State should be nearly drought free from now through the end of June. (Collective cheer!)

2024 spring drought map
Climate Prediction Center of National Weather Service

Experts with the Climate Prediction Center forecast:

Since the remainder of March is favored to be relatively wet and the April-May-June outlook depicts increased above-normal precipitation probabilities, drought removal or improvement is forecast across the Tennessee Valley, lower Mississippi Valley, and southeastern Oklahoma.

In a nutshell, we can expect slightly warmer temperatures and wetter weather. Crawfish and agricultural farmers will be excited if the outlook is accurate.

2024 Spring climate outook
Climate Predication Center of National Weather Service

The not-so-sunny side of the La Nina coin is that La Nina could take the wheel in late summer, at the end of hurricane season. Meteorologists say La Nina can mean a more active hurricane season because the winds that squelch the storms tend to relax.

READ MORE: Super-Charged Hurricane Season for Louisiana?

Science and data that is analyzed by trained minds go into the forecasts and outlooks, but there are no crystal balls when it comes to weather. That said, we should focus on the fact that we may not see a repeat of the summer of 2023.

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