Winter 2019-20 Will Likely Be Warmer Than Average in Southern U.S. & Colder Than Average in Parts of Northern Tier

Linda Lam
Published: October 18, 2019

A warmer winter is in store for much of the southern U.S., while the northern tier of the country shivers, our new winter outlook shows. In addition, NOAA's winter outlook indicates that parts of the flood-weary Northern Plains and Midwest may see a wetter-than-average December through February.

Winter temperatures will likely be near to warmer than average for much of the southern U.S., but parts of the northern tier won't be so lucky. Temperatures there are projected to be near to slightly below average.

Temperatures will be the most above average from Central California into the Southwest and much of Texas. Areas from the Northwest to the Central Plains and Southeast can expect temperatures to be near or slightly above average this winter.

The Northeast through the upper Midwest and into the northern Rockies can expect temperatures to be generally near to slightly below average from December through February.

(MORE: It's a Record-Snowy Start for the Northern Rockies, Plains

December through February temperature outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Several factors are considered in this forecast, according to Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company, including:

-Water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific and their influence on the atmosphere. Expected conditions there this winter suggest a warmer (compared to average) December and then colder than average conditions in January and February, especially in the north-central U.S.

-"The Blob" of warmer than average temperatures in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, which correlates with colder winters from the Northern Plains to the Northeast and warmer winters in the West, especially late in the season.

-The next solar minimum may occur next year, which increases the odds of a blocking pattern in the upper-levels of the atmosphere, suggesting colder winters in the East and warmer ones in the West.

-A lack of Arctic sea ice, which may lead to warmer temperatures in the East.

-Computer forecast models that have trended warmer in the eastern U.S. and colder in the West, except in February.

Given some of the conflicting factors listed above, this forecast will likely change, so be sure to check back to weather.com for updates.

(MAPS: Average Highs and Lows

Here's a closer look at how the forecast evolves over the winter.

December

The first month of meteorological winter will likely feel different than the last two months of the season.

Warmer-than-average temperatures are expected for most of the West in December. Much of the central U.S. into the Northeast can anticipate near to slightly above average temperatures.

The Southeast, however, may see near to slightly below average temperatures.

December temperature outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

January

Colder than average temperatures will return to the Northern Plains and upper Mississippi Valley in January. Areas from the Pacific Northwest through part of the Central Plains into the Northeast may see near or slightly colder than average conditions.

Meanwhile, temperatures will be well above average from Southern California into southwestern Texas and above-average temperatures will extend from Central California into most of Texas.

Near or slightly above average temperatures are anticipated from the Southeast into far Northern California and southern Oregon.

January temperature outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

February

February will have a similar feel to January for much of the country.

Below average temperatures will be found from the northern Rockies into much of the Great Lakes, while the most anomalous warmth is anticipated in the Southwest and southern Plains.

Temperatures will likely be generally near or slightly above or below average in between those two areas.

February temperature outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

NOAA's Winter Outlook

NOAA also released its winter outlook on Thursday and highlights an area from the Northern Plains into parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast as having an above-average chance of seeing more precipitation than average this winter. This includes areas of the Northern Plains and Midwest that have already experienced well-above average precipitation and record flooding this year.

Wetter-than-average conditions are also likely in Alaska and Hawaii.

Conditions, however, may be drier than average this winter in parts of Central and Northern California, as well as from southern and eastern Texas into the lower Mississippi Valley. Drought may develop in parts of Central California over the next few months.

Precipitation outlook for December through February.
(NOAA)

Regarding its temperature outlook, NOAA expects areas from the Northeast through the South and into the West to have a higher chance of seeing above-average temperatures during the December through February period.

The greatest chance for warmer-than-average temperatures, however, will be in Alaska and Hawaii.

Portions of the Northern Plains into the Midwest have equal chances of below-, near- or above-average conditions.

The deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center points out that, "Without either El Niño or La Nina conditions, short-term climate patterns like the Arctic Oscillation will drive winter weather and could result in large swings in temperature and precipitation."

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.