Colder January possible for northern Plains, Midwest

The neutral ENSO phase in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean continues to persist, and the latest long-range climate models indicate this trend will prevail at least into spring.

No signs of El Nino or La Nina are present. With a neutral ENSO phase in place, this generally opens the possibility for colder than normal temperatures across parts of the central and eastern United States during a portion of winter. This likely will depend on what the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) is doing. There are at least some hints that the NAO could have a negative period during the second half of December into early January. Typically, a negative NAO pattern allows for colder air to spill southward out of Canada into the eastern half of the United States.

Parts of the northern Plains and Midwest have the best chance of seeing slightly colder than normal January temperatures. Monthly heating degree-day surpluses of between 30 and 60 are possible in these regions. Heating costs also could be higher than normal in these parts.

The East Coast likely will see more near normal temperatures, but this will need to be monitored.

On the flip side, several climate indices point to slightly above normal temperatures across parts of the Desert Southwest, southern Rockies and western Texas. Heating degree-day deficits of between 30 and 60 are expected in January.

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