We are more than two months away from the official start of winter, December 21, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is already looking ahead to the winter weather outlook.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released the temperature, precipitation and drought outlooks for December 2020 through February 2021.
“With La Nina 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.
The greatest chances for warmer-than-normal conditions extend from the Southwest, across the Gulf states, and the Southeast.
More modest probabilities for warmer temperatures are forecast from California to the Mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast.
Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely from the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley. The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are predicted in the Southwest, along the Gulf Coast and in Florida.
More modest chances for drier conditions are forecast from California to the Central Plains and into the Southeast. The northern Mid-Atlantic and Northeast falls into the category of “equal chances” for below-, near-, or above-average precipitation.
Widespread, ongoing drought is currently in place across the western half of the continental U.S. Drought conditions are expected to expand and intensify across the southern and central Plains, Southwest and in California during the months ahead.
NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average, and how drought conditions are favored to change. The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations, as snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.