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BY GEORGE: Winter Outlook 2012-13

Not as extreme are the three main words that describe what I think will happen this year across the country. Another word that I can use to describe the likely weather pattern this winter is variability. 

If you recall, last year was one of the warmest winters on record across much of the country, but mainly for the entire eastern half of the U.S. What made it even more unusual was the fact that it came after two of some of the coldest winters in history. This year will be quite a change from those extremes. In fact, even with the wide ranging weather patterns that are likely to occur this winter, it will ultimately feel more like a normal winter pattern, but especially so in the eastern half of the country.

Overall, look for a mild pattern to dominate across the western third of the nation, and in the Upper Midwest of the Dakota’s and Minnesota. Most likely, even with my expected great variability, a near to slightly cooler than average pattern is likely to result from Texas east across the Deep South and Southeast. No, it won’t be a case of excessive chilliness for long periods, but forget about another record-breaking string of warm days that continuously dominated last year. 

It’s too close to call for the Northeast quarter of the country and across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley through the Central Midwest and Southern Plains. It could very well end up being an “average” overall temperature pattern, but again, with a wide range of patterns and temperature regimes.

Locally, we will see a decent dose of mild days, but we’ll have a greater number of cooler days and colder nights than last year. Additionally, the second part of the winter season will likely be the colder part of the season. I think this will be true across much of the east.

The drought looks poised to continue across the Plains and Upper Midwest. The snowpack is not likely to be substantial overall this year in my opinion. It will snow, and maybe some big storms, of course, but the trend to me is a drier than average year in the Plains. I think precipitation will be a little below normal across the far northeastern U.S. as well. It appears that the Pacific Northwest will also be drier and less snowy than average.

A really tough call this year is from the Southwest eastward across the Southern Plains, Deep South, and Southeast. The storm track that could end most persistent might end up drawing moisture into these areas at a little greater than average, so it looks like it might be a little wetter than average in these areas, including locally. There will be great variability, however, and the storm track might not be as persistent as in past wet years. I do think, however, that there is a good chance of seeing substantial snows on occasion across the Appalachain Mountains, Tennessee Valley, and Mid Atlantic regions of the country. There is also a much better chance of snow in the southern states, with the highest probabilities during the second half of the winter.

By: George Elliott