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Forecast for December, January and February

NOAA image of forecast winter temperatures for the USA.Oct. 20, 2005 In the first of a two-part update to the U.S. Winter Outlook, NOAA meteorologists predict this winter to be warmer than the 30 year norm, yet cooler than last year. NOAA's heating degree day forecast for December, January and February projects a 0.7 percent warmer winter than the 30 year normal, but 6.5 percent cooler than last year. Therefore, people can expect, on average, more cooler days this winter than last. (Click NOAA image for larger view of forecast winter temperatures for the USA. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.)

"With the absence of El Niño and La Niña this year's winter outlook presents a challenge to seasonal forecasters," said Jim Laver, director of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "Shorter term climate fluctuations that are best predicted week-by-week are expected to play the dominate role on the weather patterns this winter," he added.

The Winter Outlook Update
The 2005-2006 U. S. winter outlook calls for warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the central and western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The Midwest, the Mississippi Valley, the Southern Californian coast and the East Coast have equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures.

NOAA image of forecast winter precipitation for the USA.The precipitation outlook calls for wetter-than-average conditions across most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, northeastern Texas, Hawaii and northwestern Alaska. The remainder of the country has equal chances of above, near or below normal precipitation. (Click NOAA image for larger view of forecast winter precipitation for the USA. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.)

An equal chance, either for temperature or precipitation, is predicted when there is no strong or consistent climate signal for either an above or below normal conditions during the season. The prediction for areas of "equal chances" means there is a 50 percent chance for either an above-normal or below-normal forecast.

NOAA will publish the last update to the 2005-2006 U.S. Winter Outlook via the Web on Nov. 17. Meteorological winter begins Dec. 1 while astronomical winter begins Dec. 21.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
Climate Factors Helping to Shape Winter 2005-2006

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

NOAA Drought Information Center

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

NOAA Winter Weather Preparedness

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163