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NOAA's winter weather outlook 2001-2002.October 18, 2001 — For most of the United States, winter 2001-02 will feel like a sequel to last year's cold season, with sharp swings in temperature and precipitation, including heavy lake-effect snows in the Northeast and Midwest, cold air outbreaks in the South, and the potential for Nor'easters along the East Coast. (Click NOAA image for larger view of winter weather outlook for 2001-2002.)

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., officials from NOAA released the nation's official winter outlook, and said the absence of a strong El Niño or La Niña climate pattern leaves the door open for a highly variable winter, which will impact the winter weather extremes such as cold, snow, rain and ice that the nation may experience.

"We don't expect a repeat of the record-breaking cold temperatures of November-December of last year, but this winter should be cooler than the warm winters of the late 1990s," said Scott Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator. "Citizens should prepare for the full range of winter weather."

Climate factors that influenced last winter will play a similar role this season. They include: the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of cold-air outbreaks in the South and Nor'easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can impact the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.

"This winter, NOAA's improving technologies will help National Weather Service forecasters—for the first time—pinpoint when these factors will kick in and bring extreme weather," said retired General Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service. Kelly noted that the nation is likely to experience large temperature and precipitation swings during the winter.

Regional Outlooks

  • In the Northeast, colder-than-normal temperatures are expected. Snowfall for the entire region will depend on the fluctuations of the Arctic Oscillation.
  • The Mid-Atlantic States have equal chances of above normal, normal, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation. Storm tracks could bring more snow than the winters of the late 1990s, but this largely depends on the Arctic Oscillation.
  • The Southeast should be drier than normal. Temperatures have an equal chance of averaging above normal, normal or below normal.
  • In the upper Midwest and Great Lakes, temperatures should be lower than normal, with more sub-zero days than the average of recent winters. There are equal chances for cumulative precipitation to be above normal, normal, or below normal.
  • The northern Great Plains and Rockies should see below-normal temperatures with more sub-zero days than experienced on average during the winters of the late 1990s, but wet and mild weather is more likely for the southern Plains. The central Rockies can expect equal chances of above normal, normal, or below-normal precipitation and temperatures.
  • In the Northwest, there are equal chances for above normal, normal, or below-normal rain and snow. Heavy coastal rain events are more likely compared to the previous three winters. A repeat of the near-record dryness seen last winter is unlikely.
  • Expect warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of the Southwest (except western California) and equal chances of above normal, normal or below-normal precipitation.
  • Southwestern Alaska can expect a wet winter. The rest of Alaska and all of Hawaii can expect equal chance of above normal, normal, or below normal temperatures and precipitation.

The 2001-02 winter outlook will be updated on Nov. 15, 2001 at 3 p.m. EDT. The winter outlook is available online at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Click image for larger view.
NOAA's 2001 summer and early autumn highlights.

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NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

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NOAA's National Weather Service

Media Contacts:
Curtis Carey or John Leslie, NOAA's National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622.