Meteorological Winter Begins Today

Meteorological Winter has entered with a bang.  Dense fog near Nashville has caused a 45-car pileup, killing one person.  Snow and chilly temperatures are creating a tough morning in Denver.  Multiple semi-trucks have been blown off I-15 in Utah.  Santa Ana winds have knocked out power to many in the Pasadena, CA area.

Who’s ready for Spring?!

Well, you’re going to have to wait.  Especially if you live in the northern half of the country.  At least that’s the expectation according to NOAA and Accuweather, who have similar Winter Outlooks.  First NOAA:

NOAA's Winter Outlook for Temperatures

NOAA's Winter Outlook for Precipitation

And here’s what projects as of their new update this morning: Winter Outlook for 2011-12 Winter

For the most part, the two outlooks are very similar with cold, snowy conditions in the northern portion of the country and warmer conditions in the South.  One difference may be the extent of warmer-than-normal conditions in the southwest, but it’s a relatively minor difference.  In fact, if you look at the latest 3-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, the area of above-normal temperatures in the southwest is gone and is replaced by a much larger area of above-normal temperatures in the southeast.

CPC 3-month temperature outlook for Dec 2011-Feb 2012.

You may also notice the area of below-normal temperatures has increased in the mountain west and decreased in the Great Lakes.

So what’s the driving factor behind this Winter?  Well, what’s the driving factor behind every Winter outlook? El Nino/La Nina.  This year, we have a weak-to-moderate La Nina in the southern Pacific, which usually means milder conditions for the South and snow and cold for the northern Plains and Midwest.  Of course, this doesn’t mean there won’t be a snowstorm in the South or along the East Coast.  There very well could be at some point.  Overall, however, it should my milder than normal with limited frozen precipitation south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Skiing conditions should be pretty excellent throughout much of the Mountain West this year and snowmobile rentals/sales should be healthy in the Northern Plains.  In other words, places that are used to snow will see the bulk of it this Winter, which is probably best for everyone.

Of course, anything can happen, and we’ll be sure to monitor the accuracy of these predictions as the season unfolds.

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One Response to Meteorological Winter Begins Today

  1. Pingback: Meteorological Winter Begins Today « Weather Talk | Today Headlines

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