Federal Forecasters Predict Warm, Dry Winter in Many Western States

Winter 2012 forecast

People living in the western half of the continental U.S. can expect warmer -than -average temperatures this winter and in several western regions – including northern California - a dryer-than-average winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) forecast issued Oct. 18.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center cautioned, however, that a “wavering” El Niño, expected to have developed by now, makes this year’s winter outlook less certain than in past years.

“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said.  “In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific.”

The NOAA also predicted that areas that endured severe drought over the past year are unlikely to see much relief from drought this winter. Dryer-than-average conditions are expected in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Idaho, most of Nevada, western Montana and portions of Wyoming.

The NOAA’s Winter Outlook also predicted that Florida would experience colder-than-normal winter months of December through February.

 More information on the NOAA’s Winter Outlook is available here http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2012/20121018_winteroutlook.html.