What This Year's El Nino Will Mean for Winter

It will be wetter than normal in the South, drier near the Great Lakes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2015 12:02 PM CDT
Updated Oct 18, 2015 11:25 AM CDT
What This Year's El Nino Will Mean for Winter
See how your area's going to do.   (NOAA)

The NOAA's winter forecast has arrived, and thanks to a well-known Pacific Ocean phenomenon, parts of the country can expect to be doused in plenty of chilly precipitation. "A strong El Nino is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter," Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, says on the agency's site, adding that other climate patterns out of the Arctic and Pacific Northwest will also play a part. Here are some predictions countrywide:

  • Most of the Southern US will sit through a cool, wet winter thanks to El Nino, said to be the strongest it's been in 50 years. For areas suffering through drought (hello, California), that rain and snow will be welcomed, but that doesn't mean the Golden State is in the clear. "One season of above-average rain and snow is unlikely to remove four years of drought," Halpert notes, per USA Today. "California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of drought, and that's unlikely."

  • Meanwhile, an active southern jet stream will likely result in heavy rains and flooding in Florida and other Gulf Coast states, as well as snow in Southern cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh, per CNN. The Northeast doesn't get off scot-free, either: Cities like New York and Boston may get slammed with major snow this season, the network notes.
  • Not everywhere will get soaked: Drier-than-usual winters are expected for most of Hawaii, parts of Alaska, the northern Rockies, parts of the Pacific Northwest, and near the Great Lakes. Major cities that may get a reprieve from severe winter weather: Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit.
  • As for temperatures this winter, most of the western and northern parts of the country can expect warmer-than-average numbers—which, CNN notes, could lead to lower heating costs in the Midwest and Northeast. The South, on the other hand, may see below-normal temps.
(Read more El Nino stories.)

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