Two long-term weather forecasts indicate that winter 2020 may be a mixed bag of temperature and precipitation. Earlier this month, the NMME model indicated cold and snow for the north and above-normal temperatures for the south.
Then comes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) forecast, which says essentially the same thing—the months of January-February-March call for a cold and occasionally snowy winter for sizeable parts of the Northern Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes regions. Above-normal temperatures are anchored across the Southwest and southern tier of the nation.
January - February - March Temperature Outlook
Precipitation generally follows a similar pattern, with above-normal precipitation forecast for the Northern Great Plains, Midwest and parts of the Northeast. The Southwest is forecast to see below-normal precipitation.
No more El Niño
ENSO Neutral conditions (The El Niño-Southern Oscillation) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean) are expected to persist well into 2020. The past weak El Niño has ended and should not have any significant impact on winter weather.
However, a persistent area of unusually-warm water over the North Pacific is likely to influence the position of the jet stream, and thereby temperature and precipitation anomalies.
It’s possible that this “wavy” jet stream pattern could emerge from time to time, resulting in unusually-mild coastal temperatures and an unusually-cold middle U.S.
Atmospheric Rivers have been active so far this season, resulting in heavy West Coast precipitation in spots. These streams of highly-focused moisture could continue into January.
Feldt is meteorologist for Livestock WX.
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