Winter outlook: a little bit of everything

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For much of the country, this winter may be a bit more wintry than the last few. Alaskans, however, can expect the usual weather.

''Americans must be careful this winter and prepare for a little bit of everything,'' National Weather Service director Jack Kelly said Thursday.

His agency issued its official winter forecast, noting that the recent string of warm winters may be at an end.

''We've probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like,'' said D. James Baker, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

''With La Nina and El Nino out of the way, normal winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year,'' he said.

El Nino, an unusual warming of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and its cooler counterpart, La Nina, have disrupted weather over the last three years. But the Pacific has returned to its normal temperatures, and experts believe that will allow weather over the United States to resume its normal variability.

''As in most normal years, from New England to the Carolinas, cold weather will be part of your routine this winter. In Florida, the enhanced likelihood of warmer-than-normal-temperatures could be punctuated by cold air outbreaks, or Florida Freezes,'' Kelly said.

Alaska can expect near normal temperatures, however, and precipitation this winter while it is expected to be wetter than normal in Hawaii.

Elsewhere, the regional outlooks released by the Weather Service:

--In the Northeast, a polar jet stream and tropical jet stream will duel for supremacy, and the polar stream will win. That means an increased chance of snow along the spine of the Appalachians from New England to the Carolinas and points east, including Washington.

Boston could see average temperatures 2 degrees Fahrenheit below the last three winters, with Washington and New York an average of 3 degrees below and Philadelphia 5 degrees cooler.

--Look for normal wintertime conditions in the Plains states (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa) and Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri).

Compared with the last three winters, cold air outbreaks could lead to more days below zero and heavier lake-effect snow in the western portions of Pennsylvania and New York, northern Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota.

Minneapolis could see average temperatures 7 degrees below the last three winters and in Chicago it could average 6 degrees below the last three winters.

--In the Southeast, temperatures will probably be warmer than normal, but slightly cooler than the last three years, with all Gulf Coast states except Florida expected to receive more precipitation than usual.

--Areas in the West and Southwest, such as California and Nevada, will experience warmer-than normal temperatures.

--The Pacific Northwest -- Oregon and Washington -- will experience a few more heavy rains, but total precipitation for the winter should be near normal.


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