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NOAA Releases Winter Weather Outlook

December 7, 2015
 / Safety / 

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center issued its 2015-2016 U.S. Winter Outlook in October, giving a heads up as to what we can expect between December and February, weather-wise.

NOAA warns that the southern part of the U.S. – from central and Southern California across Texas to Florida and up into southern New England – should expect wetter-than-average conditions this winter.

Meanwhile, those in Hawaii, central and western Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains, and the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley areas should expect drier-than-average conditions.

Above-average temperatures are predicted for much of the West and northern half of the contiguous states, as well as in Alaska and much of Hawaii. However, below-average temperatures are predicted for the southern Plains and the Southeast.

This year’s El Nino, which is among the strongest on record, influences weather and climate patterns by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream. Arctic Oscillation influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and the number of nor’easters on the East Coast, while the Madden-Julian Oscillation impacts the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.

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Some good news did come out of the outlook – the drought being suffered in central and southern California should improve by the end of January, although it won’t be gone altogether 

“One season of above-average rain and snow is unlikely to remove four years of drought,” NOAA Climate Prediction Center Deputy Director Mike Halpert said. “California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of drought, and that’s unlikely.”

Drought improvement or removal is also likely across large parts of the Southwest and the Southern Plains.

The Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, however, are likely to see the drought persist, and areas like Hawaii, parts of the northern Plains and the Great Lakes region may see a drought development occur this winter.

The NOAA’s outlook does not project where and when winter storms may hit or provide expected seasonal snowfall accumulations. Forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which the Climate Prediction Center said are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

NOAA releases these seasonal outlooks, along with winter weather tips, to prepare communities, minimize weather’s impact on lives and livelihoods, and build a Weather-Ready Nation.

Read more on construction worker safety in cold weather here.

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