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Update 2015 Outlook – What to Expect This Winter

22 Oct 2015, 5:16 pm

Update 2015 Outlook 1

From needed rain in drought-plagued areas to a drier winter after an unusually snowy one across the Northeast, there is the potential for a degree of good news across much of the lower 48 this winter, based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s 2015-16 winter outlook, released this week.

The forecast calls for a generally cool and wet winter along the nation’s southern tier, while a warmer-than-average and drier forecast is in store for most northern regions.

The heavily-hyped rainfall for drought-stricken California is shown in the outlook, however, NOAA warns that those “impacts are not assured during every El Niño, not even the strongest ones.” Pointing to several El Niño events where above average rainfall didn’t fall on California, specifically in 1965-66, NOAA offered a strong degree of caution in its prediction for California’s potentially drought-easing rain.

While El Niño’s impacts are far from a guarantee, precipitation forecasts tend to be a bit easier to predict than temperature outlooks, due to a traditionally wider variability in El Niño-related temperature ranges. So, in short, NOAA is more confident in its precipitation than temperature winter outlook.

If NOAA’s outlook comes to reality, heavy rainfall – along with the potential for widespread flooding – could soak areas from California to Texas, areas that could certainly use a soaking rain. Meanwhile, the Northeast, including Boston’s record-setting snowfall last winter, could get a breather over the next few months.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist, Chris Bianchi


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