Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, predicts that this year's El Nino is expected to be weak, so other climate patterns that can affect winter weather are challenging to predict on a seasonal time scale.
Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, US meteorologists said.
Because of the uncertainty in seasonal prediction, NOAA's winter outlook is probabilistic in nature, meaning that a range of outcomes is possible in any area.
The main headline from the press release is that there is a higher chance of the United States to experience warmer than average temperatures for the winter.
Winter weather expert Judah Cohen, of the private company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, uses different indicators to predict winter for the National Science Foundation.
-The Southeast, Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic all have equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures.
"Wetter-than-average conditions are favored across the southern tier of the US, and up into the Mid-Atlantic", NOAA said in a statement. Since the Southeast is the only region not projected to have above-normal temperatures, a few winter storms could bring snow to the Deep South this season.
The balmy prediction is due to the roughly 75% chance of an El Niño developing. On Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, the National Weather Service forecasted a warmer than normal 2018-2019 winter for the northern and western three-quarters of the U.S.
2018-19 Winter Outlook map for precipitation
The Carolinas should also look out for the "Arcitc Ocillation", which NOAA says determines "the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South" and could lead to below-average temperatures.
Precipitation is expected to be above normal across the southern tier of the United States, extending up into the Mid-Atlantic.
- Warmer-than-normal conditions are anticipated across much of the northern and western US, with the greatest likelihood in Alaska and from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains. The chances are highest in southeastern Georgia and much of northern and Central Florida.
For those looking for snowfall projections, you won't find those in NOAA's winter outlook.
"Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance", the agency said.
-Even during a warmer than normal winter, it will still get cold and snow is still likely to occur.
NOAA will provide an update to the forecast in November.
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