WIN­TER FORE­CAST

Wet, warmer win­ter pre­dicted for much of the United States

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Seth Boren­stein AP Sci­ence Writer

Win­ter looks wet and es­pe­cially mild for much of the coun­try, thanks to a weak El Nino brew­ing, U.S. me­te­o­rol­o­gists say.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice is pre­dict­ing a warmer than nor­mal win­ter for the north­ern and west­ern three-quar­ters of the na­tion. The great­est chance for warmer than nor­mal win­ter weather is in Alaska, the Pa­cific North­west, Mon­tana, north­ern Wy­oming and west­ern North Dakota.

No place in the United States is ex­pected to be colder than nor­mal, said Mike Halpert, deputy di­rec­tor of the gov­ern­ment’s Cli­mate Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter.

The South­east, Ohio Val­ley and mid-At­lantic can go any which way on tem­per­a­ture, Halpert said.

Over­all the win­ter looks a lot like the last few, Halpert said.

“The coun­try as a whole has been quite mild since 2014-2105,” Halpert said.

Win­ter weather ex­pert Ju­dah Co­hen, of the pri­vate com­pany At­mo­spheric and En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search, uses dif­fer­ent in­di­ca­tors to pre­dict win­ter for the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion. He also fore­casted

a warm win­ter, heav­ily based on weak snow­fall in Siberia.

PRE­CIP­I­TA­TION

Halpert said the south­ern one-third of the United States and much of the East Coast could be hun­ker­ing down for a wet­ter than nor­mal De­cem­ber through Jan­uary. The chances are high­est in south­east­ern Ge­or­gia and much of north­ern and cen­tral Florida.

Hawaii, Mon­tana, Michi­gan, parts of Idaho, Wis­con­sin, north­ern Illi­nois, In­di­ana and Ohio are fore­cast to be drier than nor­mal, with the big­gest like­li­hood in Hawaii, Mon­tana and Michi­gan.

The mid­dle belt of the na­tion and some of the north from Cal­i­for­nia to New York can go any which way on pre­cip­i­ta­tion.

The weather ser­vice’s fore­cast doesn’t look at snow like­li­hood.

EL NINO

Halpert said the big­gest fac­tor in the fore­cast is a likely El Nino , the nat­u­ral warm­ing of parts of the cen­tral Pa­cific Ocean that in­flu­ences weather world­wide.

The El Nino hasn’t quite formed yet, but it’s al­most warm enough. Me­te­o­rol­o­gists pre­dict there’s a 75 per­cent chance it’ll be around this win­ter. But it will be weak, not strong like the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 win­ter, Halpert said.

BACK­GROUND WARM­ING

While El Nino is the big­gest fac­tor in the fore­cast, long-term warm­ing from hu­man-caused cli­mate change is a fac­tor, too, Halpert said.

“All things be­ing equal, the slight kick we get out of the cli­mate sig­nal does tilt things to­ward the warm side,” Halpert said.

But it’s not enough to out­weigh other fac­tors if they push to­ward cold.

“Even on a warm­ing planet,” he said, “it doesn’t mean win­ter goes away and it’s never cold again.”

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

A plow re­moves snow in Ch­ester County last win­ter. While the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice is not pre­dict­ing snow­fall amounts for the com­ing win­ter sea­son, me­te­o­rol­o­gists say most of the coun­try can ex­pect a wet but warmer win­ter.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Memo­rial Park in Pottstown was empty af­ter freshly fallen snow blan­keted the area last win­ter.

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