Forecasters unveil weather outlook for upcoming winter across US

Pablo Tucker
October 20, 2018

Weak El Nino conditions favor relatively mild winter temperatures across Minnesota, the Upper Midwest and much of the rest of the country, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday in its annual winter outlook.

Center Deputy Director Mike Halpert said in a statement a "weak El Nino" could bring "warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North".

But it will be weak, not strong like the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 winter, Halpert said.

Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, US meteorologists said.

NOAA winter outlook for the months of December January and February for the U.S
ABC News Map showing the NOAA winter outlook for the months of December January and February for the U.S

In the U.S. Winter Outlook for December through February, higher-than-normal temperatures are expected across the western and northern U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii.

While this obviously shouldn't be taken as gospel, it does give us a brief look at what we can expect heading into the winter season.

Additionally, El Nino has a 70 to 75 percent chance of developing.

The Southeast, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic can go any way on temperature, Halpert said.


Kentucky has equal chances for both above and below average temperatures according to NOAA's outlook.

Precipitation is expected to be above normal across the southern tier of the USA, extending up into the Mid-Atlantic.

During that time, an Arctic cold front will move across the USA and produce bitter winds and a drop in the temperature over much of the U.S. Northern Florida and southern Georgia have the greatest odds for above-average precipitation during the winter, the NOAA said. "The maps show only the most likely category with higher probability indicating greater confidence".

Drought conditions may worsen in much of Southern and Central California, although the north coast of California may see some relief, according to NOAA.


-This outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations.

Even so, it's no time to ditch the shovels and heavy winter jackets, with NOAA warning that its forecast does not mean the winter of 2018-2019 will not feature major snowstorms. This change in sea surface temperature has a wide range of effects on seasonal weather patterns across the globe, but in the USA, an El Niño typically means warmer winter temperatures, and higher levels of precipitation in certain regions of the country.

Farmer's Almanac Editor Peter Geiger said in late August his publication predicts "a very long, cold and snow-filled winter".


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