Weather this winter will be turned upside down, with the southern half of the country becoming colder and wetter and northern regions experiencing higher temperatures and less snow, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts.
“A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter,” Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told Weather.com.
NOAA’s forecast for the South is in line with the Farmer’s Almanac forecast, although its forecast for the North differs from the Farmer’s Almanac, which is predicting a cold and snowy season for that region.
El Nino is a large patch of warm water that appears in the central Pacific, and NOAA’s researchers think this winter’s El Nino will be the strongest since 1997 and last until spring. El Nino impacts weather by changing the movement of warm and cold air across the United States.
The most visible impacts from El Nino are destructive storms. During the 1997-1998 El Nino, storms caused $550 million in damage and killed 17 people in California. Most of the damage was caused by excessive rainfall.
The main impacts that El Nino will have on this winter’s weather according to NOAA will include:
- The southern part of the nation, including southern California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Deep South, will be wetter this winter. Meanwhile, Texas, parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, and the Deep South, will experience below-average temperatures. This means we could see more damaging ice storms in the Southern states and flooding in California and the Southwest.
- The northern tier of the United States, from the Pacific Norwest to the Great Lakes region to the Northeast, will be drier and warmer. This means that the drought in Washington State will probably get worse next year, leading to more destructive forest fires. Currently, 68 percent of Washington is experiencing extreme drought.
“This historic drought is not over,” Maia Bellon, the director of Washington State’s Department of Ecology, told The Bellingham Herald. “We face winter with a huge water deficit.”
The increased precipitation will not be sufficient to ease the mega-drought currently afflicting California and the Southwest. The result: The wet weather could have little impact on food prices.
“California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of the drought and that’s unlikely,” Halpert noted.
The Farmer’s Almanac annual forecast is predicting a repeat winter of last year for the Midwest, Northeast and Great Plains.
“It’s like Winter Déjà vu,” said editor Peter Geiger, adding that “last year our bitterly cold, shivery forecasts came true in many states including the 23 eastern states that experienced one of their top-ten coldest Februarys on record. This year many of these same states may want to get a jump start now and stock up on lots of winter survival gear: sweaters, long johns, and plenty of firewood.”
It looks like it is going to be a very interesting winter.
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