Looking back at last year’s winter might make people living in the U.S. cringe. It was one of the coldest winters on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the winter forecast for 2014-2015 is looking wet with temperatures mild compared to last year. Most of the country can expect above average temperatures with only short periods of extreme cold for the season ahead.
Last year, most regions of America were hit with an extreme cold front (Polar Vortex) that held onto the country for most of the winter months. “It was one of the coldest winters in recorded history.” said Kevin Werner, NOAA’s Winter Regional Climate Service Director, adding “[i]t was also one of the driest in parts of the country.” The western states of the country, including California, are facing extreme drought conditions.
Although NOAA cannot predict when certain events will occur, the outlook does give viewers an idea of what to expect this winter. For most of the states it has been a dry summer and precipitation over the colder months should relieve the loss. In the Northwestern part of the country it is expected to be average to above-average precipitation. Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said, “This will not be enough to pull the region out of the extreme drought the area is facing, mainly in California.” The state is currently facing a three-year drought, with 60 percent of the state in an extreme drought conditions. Researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography estimate 63 trillion gallons of ground water have been lost due to the drought.
The Eastern Half of the country should see slightly below average temperatures, while the southeast region, including parts of Texas and Louisiana, will see the coldest. The northwestern states like Washington, Oregon and the northern part of California will see above average temperatures. According to the Weather Stress Index, this region will be blocked by weather patterns barring cold and frigid air from the Arctic. They will see mild to above-average temperatures during winter in the forecast.
Researchers are hoping this is an El Ninó year, which, put simply, is a series of weather events that lead to a massive storm that forms in the Tropical Pacific and impacts weather patterns throughout the world. “This would help in lessening the drought in California,” said forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center, “[b]ut due to the severity of the drought, it would not be enough to pull the region out totally.”
Winter will start off cooler than average, according to The Weather Channel, in most of the Midwest up to the Great Lakes. The rest of the country is looking warmer than average. Winter temperatures are expected to stay mild throughout the December forecast. The average temperatures should remain through January, except for a few southern states around the Gulf of Mexico. Werner said, “There is a chance of cold air coming in but the periods are expected to be shorter than what was experienced last year.” Halpert adds, “This is an anticipated outcome based on climate data.”
By Paul Sears
Photo Provided by PSYGMON 7 – Flickr License
Featured Image by NASA – Flickr License