In announcing the 2008-2009 U.S. Winter Outlook for meteorological winter from December through February, forecasters at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures for much of the central part of the nation, and a continuation of drier-than-normal conditions across the Southeast.
With the absence of La Niña and El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean this season (climate patterns that give forecasters clues about potential weather events months in advance), predicting weather patterns on seasonal timescales becomes increasingly challenging. Instead, other climate patterns over the Arctic and North Atlantic regions may play a significant role in influencing U.S. winter weather.
“These patterns are only predictable a week or two in advance and could persist for weeks at a time,” said Michael Halpert, deputy director, Climate Prediction Center. “Therefore, we expect variability, or substantial changes in temperature and precipitation across much of the country.”
- Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic: Equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation.
- Southeast: Increased chance of above normal temperatures in the central and western parts, along with below-normal precipitation.
- Central Region: Increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures, with above-normal precipitation anticipated in parts of the central Plains.
- Western Region: Equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures, and an enhanced likelihood of below-normal precipitation across parts of the Southwest.
- Alaska: Milder-than-normal temperatures except along the southern coast. Equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal precipitation.
- Hawaii: Above-normal temperatures for eastern Hawaii and below-normal temperatures for western Hawaii. There are equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal precipitation throughout the state.
The U.S. Winter Outlook does not include a snowfall forecast. Snow forecasts are heavily dependent upon winter storms and are generally not predictable more than several days in advance.
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