NOAA ISSUES USA WINTER WEATHER UPDATE
Dec. 18, 2003 — The Winter Solstice begins on Monday, December 22, but if you ask many people living in the U.S. they might tell you winter is already here! With this year poised to being one of the wettest years on record in many states east of the Mississippi, people are asking, “What will the rest of the winter bring?” (Click NOAA image for larger view of forecast winter precipitation for the USA. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.)
In its final winter outlook update the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is predicting January, February and March will bring above average temperatures to much of the western U. S., as well as the central and northern Plains and much of Alaska, and below average temperatures to the Southeast from eastern Texas through the Carolinas, including much of Florida. Precipitation is likely to be above average in the Pacific Northwest and western and central Texas, and below average over the Southwest, Florida and the Lower Missouri Valley.
When considering the season as a whole, the remaining parts of the nation, including the Northeast, can expect equal chances of above-, below- or near-normal temperatures and precipitation. However, within the three-month period, variable and changing jet stream patterns are likely to continue bringing periods of storminess and swings of temperature extremes, as seen in the Northeast thus far. (Click NOAA image for larger view of forecast winter temperatures for the USA. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.)
NOAA forecasters expect the existing multi-year drought conditions in much of the interior West and parts of the Central Plains to continue, with the best chances for some improvement from the Northern Rockies westward to the Northern Cascades. In many areas, especially Arizona, New Mexico, and the western Great Plains, drought will likely persist and contribute to lingering, long-term water shortages. Persistent rains and saturated ground in parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic raise the concern for flooding potential.
what you can expect
Precipitation during January through March is likely to be above average in Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho, as well as in much of western and central Texas. Drier-than-average conditions are favored in Arizona and nearby parts of each surrounding state, as well as in Nebraska, Kansas, eastern Iowa and northwest Missouri, and in Florida and southernmost parts of Georgia through Louisiana. The remainder of the country has equal chances of above-, below-, or near-normal precipitation during the period.
“December 2003 shows us just how variable winter patterns can be,” said Edward O’Lenic, meteorologist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. “It is important for people to pay close attention to local, daily weather forecasts so they can prepare for various precipitation types and temperature swings.”
NOAA will issue its spring outlook in March 2004.
Climate Prediction Center is part of the NOAA
National Weather Service, which is the primary source of weather data,
forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories.