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NOAA's winter outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center is out. This year, El Nino is in place heading into winter for the first time in four years, driving the outlook for warmer-than-average temperatures for the northern tier of the continental United States.

From December through February, NOAA predicts wetter-than-average conditions for northern Alaska, portions of the West, the southern Plains, Southeast, Gulf Coast and lower mid-Atlantic and drier-than-average conditions across the northern tier of the U.S., especially in the northern Rockies and High Plains and near the Great Lakes.

“An enhanced southern jet stream and associated moisture often present during strong El Nino events supports high odds for above-average precipitation for the Gulf Coast, lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast states this winter,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of the Climate Prediction Center.

My personal take is that, yes I see the rational behind the outlook. Taken at face value, this is the way it's drawn up in the books. Not much deviation by the experts there.

I for one can't say they are wrong, but I don't see any mention of the MEI (Multi-variate El Nino Index) or the potential that the core of the El Nino's warmest waters shifts to the central Pacific (region 3.4) by winter. (That constitutes a Modoki El Nino which yields different results than the traditional eastern based 1+2). I've commented on this potential several times this fall. I have concerns that the set-up is still evolving and the traditional broad brush approach may not work. Sea surface temperatures in other parts of the world will also come into play along with increased water vapor. I'm also seeing analogs to the winters of 2009-10 and 76-77. Those were not cupcake winters! To me, the jury is still out. Time will tell.


There's plenty of weather on the table next week but until then our weekend appears to be a keeper despite the passage of a cold front Friday night. In the wake of it, gusty NW winds up to 30 mph will make for blustery conditions Saturday. Otherwise, under mostly sunny skies, temperatures will remain seasonal in the low to mid 60s. We close out the weekend Sunday with another dry day and highs in the upper 50s to near 60. Lighter winds are expected as well. The NWS issued this statement regarding cropland fire danger Saturday.

Monday we begin the transition to active weather thanks to a complex trough and its associated energy. Right now the screaming message is that the region gets into the moist conveyor belt of a deepening SW flow for a prolonged period Monday-Friday. It then becomes a matter of timing impulses within that flow to define placement and amounts of precipitation. As it stands now, the GFS has rain chances beginning Sunday night that last all the way through Friday.

It won't rain all the time but essentially daily chances are showing. The EURO is similar although it shows Thursday as a potential dry day. The mesoscale details are going to change so there's no sense getting cute about timing at this point. Rain totals will also bounce around from event to event but at least for now, the trend is there for some 1 to 2 inch amounts, perhaps even higher. Take a look.



WPC does show a heavy rain risk for parts of the area in its hazards outlook for the period October 23rd-27th.

Temperatures all of next week are expected to remain mild with highs generally in the 60s. However, I can see a day or two where readings spike well into the 70s (Tuesday and Friday are the most likely days for70 degree+ warmth).


Models are still struggling a bit on the phasing and ejection of the western trough next weekend. However, there is growing confidence the dam is going to break and unleash a flood of cold air that's in place by Halloween. Below I've included the 500mb jet forecast and temperature departures for the GFS and EURO around Halloween. The timing between the two is off 24-48 hours but the outcome is essentially the same. Cold is surging!

The GFS 500mb

GFS Temperature departures November 2nd

The EURO 500

EURO temperature departures Halloween Eve.

The cold air may be unstable enough to support some snow showers or flurries sometime in the period October 29th to November 2nd. At this point, chances are we won't see anything organized enough to produce much more than a dusting. Here's what the ensembles of the EURO and GFS are showing for snowfall.

The EURO ensemble

The GFS ensemble

To summarize, I look for a mild week coming up with periods of showers and perhaps a few thunderstorms. Significant rain appears likely. Sometime next weekend the door opens to much colder air which should be around to start November. I would not be surprised to see some snowflakes in the week two period near or after October 29th. So much to think about. Exciting stuff after a very boring summer and early fall.

I will say, as promising as the situation looks for a cold air blast next weekend, at this distance I am still concerned about phasing issues. If the polar and sub-tropical jets remain split (even partially) that would modify the cold considerably from what is currently showing. We should get a better handle on the extent of the cold by the end of the weekend. Roll weather...TS



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