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NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issues winter forecast: where will it be warmer? wetter?

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NOAA’s winter forecast for the U.S. was issued this week and the result favors warmer, drier conditions across the south and northeast of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the north, thanks in part to an ongoing La Nina. Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service — are also closely monitoring drought conditions possibly continuing during the winter months ahead as more than 45% of the continental U.S. is currently experiencing drought.

“NOAA’s timely and accurate seasonal outlooks and short-term forecasts are the result of improved satellite observations, more detailed computer forecast modeling, and expanding supercomputing capacity,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “From expansive and multi-hazard winter storms to narrow but intense lake effect snow, NOAA will provide the necessary information to keep communities safe.”

Currently, large areas of drought are taking place over the western half of the U.S., with parts of the Northeast, including southern New England, also experiencing drought. With a La Nina climate pattern in place, southern parts of the U.S. may experience expanded and intensifying drought during the winter months.

“With La Nina well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.


(NOAA Climate.gov, using NWS CPC data)

According to the forecast, the greatest chances for a warmer-than-normal winter extends across the Southern tier of the U.S. from the Southwest, across the Gulf states and into the Southeast. More modest probabilities for warmer temperatures are forecast in the southern parts of the west coast, and from the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast.


(NOAA Climate.gov, using NWS CPC data)

Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the northern tier of the U.S., not including the northeast. The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are predicted in the Southwest, across Texas along the Gulf Coast, and in Florida. More modest chances for drier conditions are forecast in southern Alaska, and from California across the Rockies, Central Plains and into the Southeast. The remainder of the U.S., including the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, falls into the category of equal chances for below-, near-, or above-average precipitation.

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