After an active Atlantic hurricane season, the NOAA is shifting its focus to winter forecasts and what’s expected for the majority of the United States between December 2018 and February 2019.
Expectations for This Winter
Growing Produce details the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center’s findings, saying, “The latest winter forecast shows warmer-than-normal conditions are expected across much of the northern and western U.S., with the greatest likelihood in Alaska and from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains. The Southwest, Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, and Mid-Atlantic all have equal changes for below-, near-, or above-average temperatures.”
Why are temperatures expected to be milder this winter? One possibility is the development of a weak El Niño system, which the NOAA gives an estimated 70–75% chance of happening. An El Niño system occurs when sea surface temperatures near the central and eastern equatorial Pacific are warmer than usual, often bringing more precipitation in the South and drier weather in the North.
A Sign of Things to Come?
This outlook leaves many wondering if a strong hurricane season and mild winters are the new normal. The damage from hurricanes Florence and Michael devastated the agricultural industry throughout the Southeast, with $1.2 billion in damage in Georgia alone, according to CNBC.
Forecasters will keep a close eye on weather patterns over the coming months, hoping to help those who will feel the greatest impact be as prepared as possible.
Is this the future for the weather in the United States? Only time will tell.