WASHINGTON (AP) — The weather forecast for this winter is
mostly a shrug of the shoulders.
For most of the nation, the National Oceanic Atmospheric
Administration predicts equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and
even average weather.
That’s because of an absence of certain global weather
factors, such as El Niño — a warming of the central Pacific that affects
temperatures and rainfall worldwide.
NOAA’s Mike Halpert said that the winter isn’t likely to be
too memorable or unusual, except in the South where drought should deepen in the
Southwest and develop in the Southeast.
Forecasters expect unusual warmth from Arizona to Alabama
and also in New England. The extreme U.S. north, around the Dakotas, is likely
to be colder than normal.
Just because forecasters are predicting equal chances for
nearly everything, that doesn’t mean it has to be a normal year, said Halpert,
acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md.
It just means the large-scale climate factors that
forecasters use, such as El Niño, aren’t giving them strong signals or patterns,
But extremes tend to happen with El Niños, so Halpert added,
“we’re probably more likely to see something more benign” for the winter.
And the winter weather is likely to change more from week to
week, rather than persisting heavy cold and snowy or mild for weeks on end,
NOAA’s forecast doesn’t look for individual blizzards or
events, just averages, so a winter that doesn’t look extreme doesn’t mean it
will be free of snowstorms, Halpert said. He said residents in snow-prone areas
shouldn’t put away their snow shovels.
And in places like the mid-Atlantic, where the national’s
capital has had less than 5 inches of snow for two years, the odds are against
the snow-drought continuing for a third year, Halpert said.
Private weather forecast companies also cited mixed and lack
of signals in their forecasts, which ranged from warm to cold.
The Weather Channel sees a winter that’s warmer than normal
for the coastal Northeast and mid-Atlantic, the South, the West and much of the
lower Midwest. The country’s northernmost states should be a bit cooler than
normal, the company forecasts
Accuweather sees a late start to winter in the East,
near-record warmth in the South, but plenty of snow and extreme cold in the
North, upper Midwest, Northwest and the Rockies. Weather Bell Analytics sees a
colder and snowier winter for much of the country, centered around the nation’s
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