NOAA issued its winter outlook for the U.S. today but the D.C. area doesn't have a strong climate signal to make for a more educated seasonal outlook.
With sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific near average for the past 6 months, niether El Nino or La Nina have been prominent and the forecast shows neither is expected to develop over the winter months.
Related: Doug Hill's Winter Weather Outlook
Mike Halpert, whom we have interviewed in previous years for our own winter weather outlook, states why that is so important.
“It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
“Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”
- NOAA's Precipitation Outlook for Winter
Above is the precipitation outlook, showing continued drought conditions in the Southwest and drier than normal conditions developing in the Southeast. Areas in the Northern Rockies are expected to experience above average precipitation.
- NOAA's Temperature Outlook for Winter
Warmer than normal temperatures are anticipated across the South as well as the far Northeast. Cooler than normal temperatures are expected in the Northern Plains states.
Related Blog: Top 10 Snowiest Winters in D.C.
What does that leave the D.C. area with? Equal chances of everything. NOAA states there isn't a "strong or reliable enough climate signal in these areas to favor one category over the others, so they have an equal chance for above, near, or below normal temperatures and/or precipitation."
NOAA even made a video for the Winter Outlook featuring Mike Halpert.