6:30am

Mon October 22, 2012
Weather

Forecast Shows Dryer, Warmer Winter Ahead For Colorado

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its 2012 US winter outlook. It says the western half of the US could be in for a dryer and warmer than average winter.

Colorado could trend warmer, but the state has equal chances of seeing above, below, or normal precipitation. Mike Halpert is Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. He says the energy and agricultural sectors will see a real benefit from this forecast. The winter outlook spans December through February.

“Your energy sector maybe can make an intelligent decision as to how much fuel they need to stock up to prepare for the winter. The precipitation forecast could help the AG sector, or water resource managers make decisions. So really our forecasts are largely a benefit to the economic sector of the country.”

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say a wavering El Niño, expected to have developed by now, makes this year’s winter outlook less certain than previous years.

“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected.”

An El Niño watch remains in effect because there’s still a window for it to emerge. Areas ravaged by extreme drought over the past year are unlikely to see much relief from drought conditions this winter.

The 2012 U.S. Winter Outlook also includes:

  • Warmer-than-average temperatures in much of Texas, northward through the Central and Northern Plains and westward across the Southwest, the Northern Rockies, and eastern Washington, Oregon and California, as well as the northern two-thirds of Alaska.
  • Cooler-than-average temperatures in Hawaii and in most of Florida, excluding the panhandle.
  • Drier-than-average conditions in Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, including Idaho, western Montana, and portions of Wyoming, Utah and most of Nevada.
  • Drier-than-average conditions in the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Missouri and eastern parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and western Illinois.
  • Wetter-than-average conditions across the Gulf Coast states from the northern half of Florida to eastern Texas.

The rest of the country falls into the “equal chance” category, meaning these areas have an equal chance for above, near, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation.

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