A forecast released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures for the Central United States through February.
In October, the NOAA predicted that this part of the country had an equal chance of having above-normal or below-normal winter temperatures.
The Climate Prediction Center said that El Niño, a condition caused by warm water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, will not play a big part in this winter’s weather.
But frequent swings in the jet stream are expected, the center reported, resulting in more variable winter weather.
Tony Lupo, an associate professor of atmospheric science at MU, credited a weakened El Niño for the warmer winter forecast and uncertainty about the long-term outlook.
“If we were securely in an El Niño or La Niña situation, it’s easier to predict,” Lupo said. October and November were both warmer than normal for Missouri.
Statewide, the average temperature in October was 57.9 degrees, 0.8 degrees warmer than usual.
In November, the average temperature in Columbia was 45.8, which is 2.4 degrees warmer than normal.
The Missouri Department of Conservation attributed unseasonably warm weather during the first week of the fall firearms deer season, which ended Tuesday, to a harvest that was lower than expected.
Vince Acquaviva of the National Weather Service in St. Louis said the seasonal forecasts could be used for planning purposes by utility companies and other business.
Lupo said that predicting the weather beyond two weeks is difficult, but feels he can securely make one statement: “Warm winters are certainly better for heating bills.”