NOAA releases its 2019-2020 Winter Outlook

Weather Blog

Peoria, Ill. – On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its winter outlook for the upcoming winter season, and while the outlook does not predict seasonal snowfall accumulation, it does provide a glimpse at what could be heading our way from December through February.

The prediction calls for above-average temperatures from the west across the south and up the east coast. For the Northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, including Central Illinois, the outlook has given the area an equal chance of seeing below-average, near-average, or above-average temperatures…in other words, anything can happen.

Their precipitation outlook calls for above-average precipitation from the Northern Plains to the Northeast, including Central Illinois. Drier than normal conditions are favored across portions of California and Gulf Coast while the rest of the country is not favored one way or the other.

While NOAA’s outlook doesn’t favor below-average temperatures in any part of the country, cold weather is still expected and some areas could see a colder than average winter.

The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern usually impacts the winter season across the U.S. This year, neutral conditions are in place and are expected to persist well into 2020.

“Without either El Nino or La Nina conditions, short-term climate patterns like the Arctic Oscillation will drive winter weather and could result in large swings in temperature and precipitation.”

Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center

It seems that Central Illinois could be in for some wild temperature swings this winter and a lot of that could be driven by the Arctic Oscillation (AO). The phase of the AO determines how many arctic air masses will impact the U.S. For instance, the U.S. is more likely to experience arctic outbreaks when the phase of the AO is negative. Unfortunately, the ability to predict the AO is limited to a few weeks.

The absence of El Nino or La Nina makes this winter prediction a bit more of a challenge. This year, NOAA’s projections were largely based on long-term trends and computer models which brings in even more uncertainty. One of the more consistent predictions has been for above-average precipitation across north-central portions of the United States.

I’ve begun working on my own bold winter prediction and am looking to release it in early November so stay tuned!

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