During the past month, sea-surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean have changed little. As a result, the current ENSO neutral phase appears to persist, and the development of El Nino has either been halted or at least slowed. Most of the latest long-range climate models suggest the ENSO phase will remain neutral throughout much of the winter. Sea-surface temperatures are running slightly warmer than average, however, across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which could open the possibility of weak El Nino developing in the upcoming months.
Slightly warmer than average January temperatures are predicted across the Desert Southwest, southern Rockies and parts of Texas. A monthly heating degree-day deficit of between 30 and 60 is projected across these regions. Heating costs also should be lower than average. Slightly colder than average temperatures might occur across part of the northern Rockies, northern Plains and the Northeast. The forecast for below normal temperatures in the Northeast is largely based on the NAO’s (North Atlantic Oscillation’s) remaining negative. If the NAO flips to a more positive pattern during the next month or two, milder conditions could result. A monthly heating degree-day surplus of between 30 and 60 is forecast during January.