It Will Be Tougher to Forecast the Weather This Winter With No El Nino

By Brian K Sullivan

November 14, 2019,

A person bundles up against the cold in New York on Nov. 12. 
A person bundles up against the cold in New York on Nov. 12.  Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Weather across the U.S. may be less predictable this winter with forecasters unable to depend on the strong influences of the El Nino and La Nina climatic events.

The odds that neither will develop have risen to 69% for December through February, up from 62% last month, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. That means forecasters must rely on other weather patterns to predict the severity of winter in the U.S. and growing seasons in South America and southeast Asia.

The center last month said there’s a high chance the U.S. East Coast will have a warmer-than-normal winter with the forecast uncertain for the Midwest. Despite the record-setting temperatures in much of the nation this week, including New York City, no part of the U.S. is expected to have below-average temperatures through the entire winter season.

“It’s a tricky situation,” according to Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster with the center. “It’s quite warm out there right now,” she said about the equatorial Pacific waters where the El Nino is spawned. “But every single model wants to kill it.”

El Nino can bring milder winters to the northern U.S., dry conditions across Australia and Brazil and fewer Atlantic hurricanes. La Nina has brought flooding rains to northern Australia and Brazil and dried out the southern U.S.


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