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Published:November 17th, 2006 03:42 EST
NOAA Climate Prediction Center Released Latest U.S. Seasonal Outlook

NOAA Climate Prediction Center Released Latest U.S. Seasonal Outlook

By SOP newswire

Meteorologists at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center today released the latest U.S. seasonal outlook and reiterated once again this winter is likely to be warmer than the 30-year norm (1971-2000) over much of the nation, yet cooler than last year's very warm winter season. NOAA's heating degree day forecast for December, January and February projects a 2 percent warmer winter than the 30 year average but about 9 percent cooler than last year.

Meanwhile, a strengthening El Niño event continues to develop in the equatorial Pacific and is likely to continue into spring 2007. "During moderate as well as strong El Niño episodes, an increase in the occurrence of extreme cold days, especially in the Northeast, becomes less likely," said Vernon Kousky, research meteorologist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "However, this current event is not expected to reach the magnitude of the very strong 1997-1998 El Niño episode," he added.

The U.S. Winter Outlook

Overall, NOAA seasonal forecasters expect warmer than average temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, the northern and central plains, the Midwest, the Northeast and northern mid-Atlantic, as well as most of Alaska during December 2006 through February 2007. Near-average temperatures are favored for parts of the Southeast from Louisiana through North Carolina, while below-average temperatures are anticipated for Hawaii. Parts of the mid-Atlantic, the Tennessee Valley, the Southwest from Texas to California and the intermountain West have equal chances of warmer, cooler and near-normal temperatures this winter.The precipitation outlook calls for wetter-than-average conditions across the entire southern tier of the country from central and southern California across the Southwest to Texas and across the Gulf Coast to Florida and the south Atlantic Coast. Drier-than-average conditions are favored in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, the northern Rockies and Hawaii. Other regions, including Alaska, have equal chances of drier, wetter or near average precipitation. Averages vary from location to location and are based on the 1971-2000 base period.

Winter Weather Safety

"The prediction for a warmer than normal winter season does not mean we won't have winter weather," said Mike Halpert, lead seasonal forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "What it does mean is that on average this will be a milder than average winter across much of the North, with fewer arctic air outbreaks," he added. The NOAA National Weather Service has a plethora of weather safety news and information online, including NOAAWatch, a portal to a variety of current weather information, and NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a nearby NOAA National Weather Service forecast office. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts NOAA National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Winter Solstice or astronomical winter begins on December 22, when the noontime sun is farthest south in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. However, meteorologists define winter by the onset of winter-like weather conditions, which occurs earlier as one moves northward. Meteorological winter, roughly speaking, begins on December 1 over much of the continental United States.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.