Story at a glance

  • The U.S. is in for a warm, dry winter this season, partially due to La Niña winds cooling sea surface temperatures.
  • Low precipitation is expected to ensue for most of the southern region of the U.S.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its winter weather outlook on Thursday, predicting an average of warmer than normal winter temperatures for the majority of the country.

Forecasts indicate that two-thirds of the U.S. states should see warmer weather during the historically colder months, with warm and dry conditions prevailing across the southern tier of the U.S.

Northern states will see chillier and wetter conditions, primarily due to the arrival of La Niña, a weather pattern featuring periods of chillier sea surface temperatures.  

Drought conditions are also expected to accompany the drier weather, especially out West. The report mentioned that about 45 percent of the U.S is experiencing some form of drought right now, namely in the Northeast and western regions. This is largely due to a tepid Southwest summer monsoon season as well as historic heat waves, which recently saw the hottest September on record. 

La Niña is only expected to bring similar dryness to southern regions. 

“With La Nina well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The South will also be the primary recipient of the higher temperatures, with a warm winter likely to stretch from the Southwest to the Southeast of the U.S., running down to the Gulf Coast.

Other regions, like the Mid-Atlantic, the Northeast and the southern parts of the West Coast, are expected to see more modest warmer temperatures, along with Hawaii and parts of Alaska.

The only states expected to see below-average winter temperatures are the ones located from the Pacific Northwest into the Northern Plains, as well as for southern Alaska. 

Published on Oct 16, 2020