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Winter forecast: warmer West, wetter South

Affected by a weak El Nino, winter weather in the United States will be warmer in the West and cooler and wetter in the South and Southeast, U.S. government forecasters predicted Thursday.
/ Source: Reuters

Affected by a weak El Nino, winter weather in the United States will be warmer in the West and cooler and wetter in the South and Southeast, U.S. government experts predicted Thursday in their final winter forecast.

The U.S. East, including the Northeast which is the biggest consumer of heating oil in the world, should get cooler-than-average temperatures, according to the forecast.

“This event is expected to continue into early 2005 but remain much weaker than the 1997-1998 El Nino that greatly affected parts of California,” said Wayne Higgins, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

El Nino, which is Spanish for “the little boy,” is an abnormal warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every three or so years that can wreak havoc with global weather patterns.

NOAA also said that drought will worsen in the Northwest and Ohio Valley regions due to drier-than-normal weather. Drought will lessen in parts of the Southwest, however.

Wetter-than-average weather will blanket the South from New Mexico to Texas and Louisiana, NOAA said.

In its forecast, the weather agency said the mid-Atlantic Coast States, the southern Ohio Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Southeast, the lower Mississippi Valley and eastern sections of Texas will be cooler than normal.

Warmer-than-average temperatures will cover the West, the Rockies and Alaska and Hawaii.

NOAA’s winter forecast is for December 2004 through February 2005.