UNITED STATES NEWS

Federal forecasters predict warm, wet US winter but less snow because of El Nino, climate change

Oct 19, 2023, 11:15 AM

The upcoming United States winter looks likely to be a bit low on snow and extreme cold outbreaks, with federal forecasters predicting the North to get warmer than normal and the South wetter and stormier.

A strong El Nino heavily moderates and changes the storm tracks of what America is likely to face from December to February, with an added warming boost from climate change and record hot oceans, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday in releasing their winter outlook.

The forecast warmth will likely turn some storms that would have dumped snow into rain in the nation’s northern tier, but there’s also “some hope for snow lovers,” with one or two possible whopping Nor’easters for the East Coast, said Jon Gottschalk, operations branch chief of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Parts of the East Coast, particularly the Mid-Atlantic, may get more snow than normal because of that, he said.

Most of the country is predicted to be warmer than normal with that warmth stretching north from Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska and Nevada, along with nearly all of California. The rest of the nation is forecast to be near normal or have equal chances for warm, cold or normal. NOAA doesn’t predict any part of the U.S. to be cooler than normal this winter.

“The greatest odds for warmer than average conditions are in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and northern New England,” Gottschalk said.

A similarly large southern swath of the country is predicted to be wetter. The forecast of added moisture stretches from Massachusetts down the East Coast along most of the South below Tennessee, and extending west through Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and most of California, but excluding good chunks of New Mexico and Arizona.

The Great Lakes region and the furthest northern parts of the nation stretching from Lake Erie to eastern Washington are forecast to be drier than normal.

All this is because of El Nino, which is a natural periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide and generally heats up global temperatures, Gottschalk and other NOAA scientists said. El Nino has its strongest effects, especially in the United States, during the winter. That’s when it sends the jet stream, which moves storm fronts, on an unusual path that is dominated by warmer and wetter Pacific air plunging south.

That means more rain in the South and extra storminess in the late winter, Gottschalk said. El Nino often means “unusual severe weather across the state of Florida because of a strong subtropical jet stream,” he said.

Those changes in the jet stream often can bring a storm along the East Coast with moisture from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico “to get very juiced up” and fall as heavy snow in big eastern cities, Gottschalk said. That depends on timing of temperatures and other conditions, so it’s not likely to happen more than a couple times. But if the timing is right, “these storms can really explode off the East Coast,” he said.

He pointed to Washington’s paralyzing 2010 Snowmageddon storm that dumped more than 2 feet on the capital region during an El Nino.

Normally the South gets not just wetter but cooler during an El Nino, but Gottschalk said the warmer ocean temperatures and record hot summer temperatures led forecasters to ditch a cooler outlook.

NOAA scientists said climate change is an added factor to their forecast, especially with winter being a season where the world sees some of the most warming above old normals from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Winter in the Lower 48 has warmed on average 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) in the past 40 years, according to NOAA data.

Meteorologists outside NOAA see the winter playing out somewhat similarly.

Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, a commercial firm outside of Boston, has become prominent because of his successful forecasts based on fall Siberian snow cover and study of the infamous polar vortex. The Siberian snow cover, El Nino and other factors “indicate an overall mild winter,” he told The Associated Press.

When Siberia has less fall snow, the polar vortex, a mass of cold air centered at the top of the globe, tends to stay strong and keeps the frigid Arctic air penned up near the pole, Cohen said. When there’s more snow, the polar vortex is weaker and the frigid air escapes to the United States.

People on the East Coast should be prepared for “weather whiplash” with not much snow in general except for one or two real gangbusters, especially in the Mid-Atlantic, Cohen said.

The private firm AccuWeather forecasts below average snowfall in Boston, New York City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Chicago and Minneapolis, with near average in Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia and more than normal in Denver.

AccuWeather predicts less warmth than NOAA, with pockets of southern California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee cooler than normal.

___

Read more of AP’s climate coverage at http://www.apnews.com/climate-and-environment

___

Follow Seth Borenstein on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @borenbears

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

United States News

Associated Press

8 shot including 2 men killed at a party with hundreds attending in Memphis park, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Eight people were shot including two men who were killed at an unsanctioned public party in a Memphis city park Saturday night, police said. The Memphis Police Department initially reported there were 16 people shot but revised the number as the investigation continued, noting in a social media post that the […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Vehicle crashes into building where birthday party held, injuring children and adults, sheriff says

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A vehicle drove through a boat club building where a children’s birthday celebration was taking place Saturday, seriously injuring a number of children and adults, a Michigan sheriff said in a news release. The victims were taken to several area hospitals after the crash that occurred at about 3 p.m. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

3 hospitalized after knife attack on party boat in New York City along Brooklyn waterfront

NEW YORK (AP) — A knife attack on a crowded party boat at a New York City pier Saturday resulted in the hospitalization of three people, police said. A 911 call came in around 5 p.m. reporting the assault along the Brooklyn waterfront near 58th Street and the Brooklyn Army Terminal warehouse, NYPD Detective Sophia […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Autoworkers union celebrates breakthrough win in Tennessee and takes aim at more plants in the South

DALLAS (AP) — The United Auto Workers’ overwhelming election victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is giving the union hope that it can make broader inroads in the South, the least unionized part of the country. The UAW won a stunning 73% of the vote at VW after losing elections in 2014 and 2019. […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Conditions improve for students shot in Maryland park on ‘senior skip day’

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Three of the five youths shot in a suburban Washington, D.C., park during a high school “senior skip day” gathering have been released from the hospital, while the condition of the most seriously injured has improved, authorities said Saturday. Police in Greenbelt, Maryland, are asking the public to share video footage […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

New York lawmakers pass $237 billion budget addressing housing construction and migrants

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers passed a $237 billion state budget Saturday that includes plans to spur housing construction and combat unlicensed marijuana stores. The package also includes a raft of other measures ranging from expediting the closure of some state prisons, addressing the recent influx of migrants, and continuing the pandemic-era policy […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Federal forecasters predict warm, wet US winter but less snow because of El Nino, climate change