How will El Niño affect winter? Publication of new long-term outlook

(NEXSTAR) – As it seems increasingly likely that a strong El Niño will accompany us through the winter, we get a glimpse of the impact the climate phenomenon could have on the weather during this holiday season.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center released a new long-range weather forecast Thursday, providing a glimpse of what the next three months could look like. The forecast includes the start of winter, but the outlook doesn’t look very wintry yet.

Instead, a record-breaking hot summer turned into a warm fall for many. This trend looks set to continue across much of the country.

The Pacific Northwest and Northeast are most likely to have above-average temperatures through December. The West Coast, Southwest, Gulf, East Coast and Great Lakes are also heading toward a warmer-than-average late fall and early winter.

In states where temperatures are dropping, it seems unlikely that they will be accompanied by blankets of winter snow – at least not yet. Northern states are expected to experience below-average precipitation or possibly an equal chance of having a dry season, a wet season, or a normal season.

The Southeastern states, on the other hand, are expected to experience above-average rainfall over the next three months. The outlook comes amid a busy Atlantic hurricane season, which has already produced 14 named storms.

The official Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.

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As winter approaches, the impacts of El Niño are likely to become even more evident. La Niña and El Niño tend to peak in winter.

During an El Niño winter, the southern third to half of the United States, including California, tends to receive more precipitation. (Exactly where this dividing line lies varies from year to year.) Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Ohio Valley tend to be dry and warm .

Hawaii also often experiences below-average rainfall during the El Niño season in fall, winter, and spring.

Last week, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there was a 71 percent chance that a historically strong El Niño would form this year.

The sustainability of this year’s El Niño phenomenon is even more certain. NOAA forecasters said there was a greater than 95% chance it would last into early spring and a 60% chance it would continue into summer.


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