Winter Forecast: Warmer than Normal for Most of U.S.

Winter temperature forecast. Percentages indicate the percent chance for above- or below-normal conditions. (Image credit: NOAA)

Forecasters expect warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of the United States this winter.

The long-range outlook, issued today by NOAA, parent organization of the National Weather Service, covers December through February.

Temperatures will likely be above long-term averages in the Pacific Northwest and across much of the nation's midsection. [Map]

Data for other regions do not suggest anything outside normal bounds.

Forecasters caution that long-range climate forecasts do not indicate what might happen on any given day or week.

"Even though the average temperature over the three-month winter season is forecast to be above normal in much of the country, there still will be bouts of winter weather with cold temperatures and frozen precipitation," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The cycle of El Niño and La Niña is in mid-phase now and is not expected to be a factor this winter.

Absent that, forecasters look to other climate factors, from sea-surface temperatures around the globe to shifting patterns of wind such as the jet stream.

The precipitation outlook reveals less extreme predictions for the winter. Small pockets of the country will see more rain or continued drought, however:

The precipitation outlook calls for wetter-than-normal conditions across most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas. Drier-than-normal conditions are expected across the Southwest from Arizona to New Mexico. [Map]

Live Science Staff
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