The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's winter weather forecast for the U.S. is out, and somewhat surprisingly, it's predicting some drought improvement for the northern part of California.

Drought conditions are expected to worsen in Southern California, the Southwest, and the South, with lower-than-average rainfall likely thanks to the second La Niña cycle in a row. But drought conditions should improve for NorCal, the NOAA says, even though the probability is that we'll have less rain than average, kind of like last year. That's confusing, but maybe it has something to do with assumptions about snowpack?

See the maps below for reference.

"The Pacific Northwest, northern California, the upper Midwest, and Hawaii are most likely to experience drought improvement," the NOAA says.

But as you can see on the Drought Outlook map above, the Bay Area is right on the line between "Continue or Worsen" and "Improve," so it seems like it could still go either way.

The Pacific Northwest is expected to see a wetter-than-average winter, and also a cold one. While much of the rest of the U.S. will see a warmer than average winter.

The video below discusses how this is just about probabilities, and many of these predictions may not come to pass.

"Consistent with typical La Nina conditions during winter months, we anticipate below-normal temperatures along portions of the northern tier of the U.S. while much of the South experiences above-normal temperatures," says Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. "The Southwest will certainly remain a region of concern as we anticipate below-normal precipitation where drought conditions continue in most areas."

What Northern California will need is more of those "inside slider" storm patterns that bring some of that extra precipitation in the Northwest down to us. Fingers crossed.

As we discussed last year, La Niña winters have not, historically, all been dry spells for the Bay Area. They sometimes begin dry and then rainfall in late winter makes up for that. So, still anyone's guess, but this weekend's fall rain is a good start.

Previously: Second Consecutive La Niña Winter Looms — Still Anyone's Guess If It Will Be a Repeat Dryspell For NorCal