The U.S. Is in for a Warm, Wet Winter With El Niño

The U.S. Is in for a Warm, Wet Winter With El Niño

Temperatures are currently cooling down across the U.S., but much of the country is in for a warmer, wetter winter than usual, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in this year’s winter outlook.

This has been an El Niño formation year, and now that the boy is back in town, NOAA has forecast that much of the northern half of the contiguous U.S. is going to see above-average winter temperatures. The lower half of the country is a coin toss, with equal chances of slightly below normal, near normal, or slightly above normal temperatures this winter.

The 2023-2024 U.S. Winter Outlook map for temperature shows the greatest chances for warmer-than-average conditions are in the northern tier of the continental United States.

NOAA has also forecast above-average precipitation from December to February. A lot of the lower half of the country and up the East Coast into New England is likely to experience extra rain and snow. This is great for some of the especially dry conditions throughout the country—about a third of the U.S. is currently experiencing drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“An enhanced southern jet stream and associated moisture often present during strong El Nino events supports high odds for above-average precipitation for the Gulf Coast, lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast states this winter,” Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.

The 2023-2024 U.S. Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the South and Southeast and parts of California and Nevada.

Some areas are more likely to see cold winter rain than a lot of snow piling up. But this does not mean no snow at all. States across the Northeast could still experience a couple of nor’easters this winter. “With the right timing, these storms can really explode off the East Coast,” Gottschalck told CNN.

Some states are likely to buck the trend, though. Parts Central Great Lakes region and the Northern Rockies are predicted to experience below-average precipitation.

This year’s winter outlook is a bit different from last year’s, where much of the lower half of the U.S. was expected to see less precipitation and had forecast a dry winter. The then-widespread drought was predicted to continue, until a series of winter storms hitting the California coast dropped enough rain and snow to break snowpack records.

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