2015 winter forecast issued by NOAA

El Niņo Watch shows 67 percent chance of development

October 16, 2014

Last year’s winter weather misery could be priming for a repeat performance, with a potential for the frigid polar vortex to make an unwelcome return.

Though parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic had a gradual introduction to fall, winter will arrive without delay. Cold air and high snow amounts will define the season.

Farther south, ice storms and snow events will threaten the Tennessee Valley and parts of the southern Plains. Much of the South can prepare for a wet winter, with some severe weather encroaching on Florida.

The northern Plains will be somewhat inconsistent with variable, back-and-forth temperatures and below-normal snowfall. Meanwhile, the drought will persist in the Northwest and northern California and ease slightly father south.

While most experts agree that it’s unlikely the U.S. will see low temperatures to surpass last year’s record-shattering cold, the blast of Arctic air that tormented the Midwest and East last winter could head down again.

“I think, primarily, we’ll see that happening in mid-January into February but again, it’s not going to be the same type of situation as we saw last year, not as persistent,” expert long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok said in Accuweather’s annual winter forecast


El Niņo, an ocean-atmospheric phenomenon in the Tropical Pacific that affects global weather patterns, may still develop this winter. Climate Prediction Center forecasters announced on Oct. 9 that the ocean and atmospheric coupling necessary to declare an El Niņo has not yet happened, so they continued the El Niņo Watch with a 67 percent chance of development by the end of the year. While strong El Niņo episodes often pull more moisture into California over the winter months, this El Niņo is expected to be weak, offering little help to end the drought.

This seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

While some of the Arctic weather may return this year, CPC meteorologists say the large-scale patterns that made last year so miserable are “really unlikely to occur.”

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