NOAA releases outlook for winter 2020-2021

National News

WASHINGTON (WETM) – Winter is upon us and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has released their Outlook for what they expect the Winter Season will look like. This outlook is for the months of December through February.

NOAA’s winter forecast for the United States favors warmer and drier conditions across the southern U.S. and cooler, wetter conditions in the Northern U.S. 2020 is a La Nina year and these expected conditions are due to that. The Climate Prediction Center is closely monitoring drought throughout much of the United States, which included a large part of the Twin Tiers.

U.S. Drought Monitor for the Northeast

Much of the Twin Tiers is either in a moderate or severe drought and has been for well over a month at this point. Unfortunately, it is possible that it will get worse for parts of the Twin Tiers as discussed by NOAA in their outlook.

U.S. Drought Outlook for Winter 2020

A large portion of Pennsylvania is forecast to have drought continue or worsen according to the Winter Outlook. Though La Nina does bring cooler and wetter conditions to the northern areas, this does not include Pennsylvania. Other parts of the Twin Tiers that are suffering from moderate drought are expected to see that drought end during the winter months.

U.S. Precipitation Outlook for Winter 2020

You can see in the map above, provided by NOAA, that the areas of “wetter than normal” stop at Ohio and do not move into New York and Pennsylvania. The Twin Tiers sees an equal chance of seeing more or less than normal precipitation for the Winter, which can help or harm our drought conditions. Unfortunately, this is just something we will have to wait and see on.

Now the part you’re all waiting for, the temperature. Much of New York State and Pennsylvania is in a 33-40% chance of seeing warmer than normal temperatures for the winter season. The greatest chances for warmer than normal temperatures exist in the South, especially in West Texas.

U.S. Temperature Outlook for Winter 2020

The only areas expected to see colder than average temperatures are the far northern parts of the country west of Wisconsin.

2020 is a La Nina year, what does that mean? La Nina is the cold counterpart to El Nino as a part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During La Nina, the sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal. The appearance of La Nina persists for a least five months and has extensive effects on the weather around the world and right here in the Twin Tiers.

A note about seasonal outlooks: NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average, and how drought conditions are favored to change. The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations; snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance. Seasonal outlooks help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. Empowering people with actionable forecasts and winter weather safety tips is key to NOAA’s effort to build a more Weather-Ready Nation.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month. The next update will be available on November 19, 2020.

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