Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, U.S. meteorologists said.
The National Weather Service on Thursday predicted a warmer than normal winter for the northern and western three-quarters of the nation. The greatest chance for warmer than normal winter weather is in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Montana, northern Wyoming and western North Dakota.
And while the Chicago area and the Great Lakes region are expected to see higher temperatures, forecasters note that does not mean we will not see cold spells. In other words, do not keep those winter jackets, scarves and gloves in storage. Of course, the two competing farmers Almanacs have offered competing winter forecasts for the Chicago area, with one saying it will be cold.
No place in the United States is expected to be Colder than normal, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Government's Climate Prediction Center.
The Southeast, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic can go anywhere, Halpert said.
Overall the winter looks a lot like Halpert said.
"The country has been quite mild since 201
Winter weather expert Judah Cohen, of the private company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, uses different indicators to predict winter for the National Science Foundation. He also forecasted a warm winter, heavily based on weak snowfall in Siberia.
Across the Great Lakes, including Chicago and suburbs, expect below-average precipitation this winter, forecasters say.
That's in contrast to The southern one-third of the United States and much of the East Coast, which could be hunkering down for a wetter than normal December through January, Halpert said.
Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, parts of Idaho, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are forecast to be the largest likelihood in Hawaii , Montana and Michigan.
The weather service's forecast does not look at snow likelihood.
The El Nino, El Niño, the natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean.
The El Nino has not been formed yet, but it's almost warm enough. Meteorologists predict there's a 75 percent chance it'll be this winter. Halito said.
While El Nino is the biggest factor in the forecast, long-term warming from human-caused climate change is a factor, too, Halpert said.
"All things being equal, the slight kick does not come out of the climate signal," said Halpert.
"Even on a warming planet," he said, "it does not mean winter goes away and it's never cold again."
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