La Niña's re-emergence isn't a done deal, however. Forecast models are still mixed despite a growing number suggesting a double-dip, and forecasters are waiting for additional data before increasing the odds of a return to La Niña.

"I'll continue to look at the subsurface temperatures, which are a leading indicator of La Niña events, and I'll keep an eye on the models," Unger said. "In my experience, the best indicator is coherence in models."

In the next few months, forecasters should have a better idea of the final call: La Niña or neutral conditions. Regardless of which wins out, eastern New Mexico likely will experience a dry winter. Neutral events in this area, along with West Texas, often bring slightly drier conditions, Unger said.

For the rest of the region, southwesterners are crossing their fingers for a neutral event. In the past these events have brought either a wet or a dry winter.  

"You don't have to have a severe dry period to make an existing drought worse," Wolter said. "I'm concerned about an increased probability of this winter being drier than average."