NOAA's winter outlook was released on Thursday morning. Their outlooks, as you are likely aware, are different in the sense that they don't get into using "normal" or "average" but instead use the wonderfully unique "equal chances" as a way to describe whether temperatures will end up milder or colder than average for the course of winter.
That's exactly where we are -- for both temperatures...and precipitation.
Their outlook only paints one pocket of cold for the balance of winter -- the Northern Plains, with a swath of warmth across Texas, the Southwest, and also across eastern parts of New England.
For precipitation, they feel dry conditions or drought should develop across the Desert Southwest and across the Southeast during the course of winter, with below average precipitation expected. The only areas with above average precipitation are anticipated to be the Northern Rockies (Montana, specifically).
There's no big driver (Nino, Nina) in the atmospheric and oceanic patterns this year. Without the Nino and Nina bus to drive winter along, NOAA is saying this winter outlook is a bit more of a challenge than past years.
“It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in their press release. “Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”
Equal chances for us for warmth and chill...equal chances for above and below normal precipitation. Sounds like a coin flip type of winter in their eyes.