Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Forecasters: Drought more likely than blizzards in US this winter

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2020 | 3:37 PM
In this Wednesday, September 30, 2020 file photo, dry desert soil cracks due to the lack of monsoon rainfall in Maricopa, Arizona. In a report released on Thursday, October 15, 2020, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters see a dry winter for all of the south from coast-to-coast and say that could worsen an already bad drought. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Don’t expect much of a winter wallop this year, except for the pain of worsening drought, United States S government forecasters said Thursday.

Two-thirds of the United States should get a warmer than normal winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted.

Only Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota, will get a colder than normal winter, forecasters said.

The forecast for winter rain and snow splits the nation in three stripes. NOAA sees the entire south from southern California to North Carolina getting a dry winter.

Forecasters see wetter weather for the northernmost states: Oregon and Washington to Michigan and dipping down to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and other parts of the Ohio Valley.

The rest of the nation will likely be closer to normal, NOAA said.

For the already dry Southwest and areas across the South, this could be a “big punch,” said NOAA drought expert David Miskus.

About 45% of the nation is in drought, the highest level in more than seven years.

Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said he doesn’t see much relief for central and southern California, where wildfires have been raging.

What’s driving the mostly warmer and drier winter forecast is La Nina, the cooling of parts of the central Pacific that alter weather patterns worldwide, Halpert said.

For the East, big snowstorms or blizzards aren’t usually associated with La Nina.

That’s more likely with its warming ocean counterpart, El Nino, he said.

But he added that extreme events are not something meteorologists can see in seasonal forecasts.

Halpert also said he doesn’t expect the dreaded polar vortex to be much of a factor this year, except maybe in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes.

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