How much cold and snow? NOAA releases winter weather outlook

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its winter weather outlook on Thursday, and the forecast won’t please many in the drought-stricken southwest.

The forecast for December through February makes special mention of the ongoing La La Niña impact on conditions. La Niña – characterized by cool sea surface temperature in the Pacific impacting weather patterns in North America – can often decrease precipitation in the southern half of the United States.

“With La Niña 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.

Maps show the most of the most heavily populated states in the nations experiencing more warm days than typical for this stretch of the year. That is particularly true in the south and West Texas, where there is a relatively high probability of warm, dry conditions.

(Image courtesy: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

NOAA notes the pattern will be completely different for states along the Canadian border, where cooler temperatures and more rain and snow are likely.

“Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska,” NOAA said.

(Image courtesy: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The dry pattern across the south and west is potentially troubling news for residents of the four corner states, as well as California, Nevada and Texas, all of which have seen abnormally dry or full blown drought conditions set in over the past few winters.

NOAA had previously projected there would be little or no relief for those areas through the end of 2020, but these new projections suggest drought conditions are unlikely to significantly improve before late 2021.

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