Warmer-than-average temperatures are forecast for much of the U.S. this winter according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. However, it will still get cold this winter! And because weather is wild, there will be times we fall below average as well.  Additionally, wetter-than-average weather is most likely across the Northern Tier of the U.S. during winter, which extends from December through February.

Typically, La Nina or El Nino strongly influence our winter, it is neutral this year and expected to stay that way into spring. In the absence of El Nino or La Nina, long-term trends become a key predictor for the outlook, while other climate patterns, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation (AO), will likely play a larger role in determining winter weather. For example, the AO influences the number of arctic air masses that intrude into the U.S., but its predictability is limited to a couple weeks.

“Without either El Nino or La Nina conditions, short-term climate patterns like the Arctic Oscillation will drive winter weather and could result in large swings in temperature and precipitation,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

This spring saw significant and historic flooding across the central U.S. that impacted nearly 17 million people. However, during the summer and early fall, drought rapidly developed across much of the South, with drought conditions now present across approximately 20% of the country.

The 2019-20 U.S. Winter Outlook | December through February

Temperature

The greatest likelihood for warmer-than-normal conditions are in Alaska and Hawaii, with more modest probabilities for above-average temperatures spanning large parts of the remaining lower 48 from the West across the South and up the eastern seaboard.

The Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, and the western Great Lakes have equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures.

No part of the U.S. is favored to have below-average temperatures this winter.

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Precipitation

Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in Alaska and Hawaii this winter, along with portions of the Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This includes the NE portion of the WDRB viewing area. 

Drier-than-average conditions are most likely for Louisiana, parts of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma as well areas of northern and central California.

The remainder of the U.S. falls into the category of equal chances for below-, near-, or above-average precipitation.

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Drought

Abnormally dry conditions are present across much of the Southern U.S., with areas of the most severe drought in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, central Texas and parts of the Southeast.

Drought is expected to improve in portions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Alaska and Hawaii, while persisting in central Texas and the Southwest.

Drought development is expected to occur in parts of central California. (See NOAA's seasonal drought outlook page for map and details.)

Things to note:

The U.S. Winter Outlook will be updated on November 21. Also, this seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.  All this outlook tells us are possible trends for the months to come.

Seasonal outlooks to help communities prepare for what's likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods. At this point of the year, we should be starting to think about winter and preparing for some cold and snowy days! 

WDRB will provide our own Winter Outlook and forecast soon!