A dust storm in southeastern Colorado, southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles late last week was a symptom and reminder of the drought conditions from that area to the west and south. Though the drought has eased in parts of Texas, the anomalous weather shows that La Niña remains strong in the Pacific Ocean and though it’s beginning to ebb slightly closer to the west coast of South America, it’s still causing warming ocean temperatures off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. It’s not how La Niña normally behaves, as it’s kept winter temperatures generally mild by blocking the polar vortex from sliding south into the lower 48 contiguous states thus far. In the next few days, that dynamic means high-pressure systems will obstruct low-pressure troughs from bringing Arctic air south, with the northern Plains, Four Corners and Great Lakes regions expected to see much of the winter precipitation while a line of rainfall moves rapidly through the Southeast. See more on the latest outlook.