Winter forecast a repeat of last year but with more temperature swings

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Oct. 18, 2001 — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday forecast that the winter of 2001-02 would feel like the “sequel” to last year’s cold winter but with much sharper swings in temperature and precipitation.

In its official winter forecast, the weather service said the lack of any strong “El Nino” or “La Nina” climate pattern that usually moderates temperatures will leave the door open for a highly variable winter. This means US residents should expect extremes in cold, snow, rain, and ice.

“We don’t expect a repeat of the record breaking cold temperatures of November-December of last year, but this winter should be cooler than the warm winters of the late 1990s,” said Scott Gudes, NOAA’s acting administrator. “Citizens should prepare for the full range of winter weather.”

The sharp swings in temperature and precipitation will include heavy lake-effect snows in the Northeast and Midwest, cold air outbreaks in the South, and storms along the East Coast known as Nor’easters. The drought experienced last year in the Pacific Northwest is apparently over for this year, the weather service said. Hydroelectric power was short last year and demand escalated for gas-fired power generation throughout the West.

The regional outlooks are:

The Northeast should have colder than normal temperatures. Snowfall for the entire region will depend on the fluctuations in an Arctic weather pattern known as Arctic Oscillation.

The Mid-Atlantic States will have equal chances of above normal normal or below normal temperatures and precipitation. Storm tracks could bring more snow than the winters of the 1990s but that will depend on the Arctic Oscillation too.

The Southeast should be drier than normal. Temperatures will have an equal chance of averaging above normal, normal, or below normal.

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes may see temperatures lower than normal with more sub-zero days than in the average of recent winters.

The Northern Great Plains and Rockies should see below-normal temperatures with more sub-zero days than experienced on average during the winters of the late 1990s. The southern plains will experience wet and milder weather though. And the central Rockies can expect equal chances of above normal, normal, or below normal precipitation and temperatures.

In the Northwest heavy coastal rains are more likely compared to the previous three winters. The record dryness seen last winter is unlikely to be repeated.

And in the Southwest warmer than normal temperatures in most of this region except western California and equal chances of above normal, normal, or below normal precipitation.

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