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Winter to slam Northwest as South stays warm and dry

Mark Jordan digs out following a blizzard that hit the nation's capital in February. Forecasters says a repeat of last year's Mid-Atlantic "Snowmageddon" isn't expected.

Mark Jordan digs out following a blizzard that hit the nation's capital in February. Forecasters says a repeat of last year's Mid-Atlantic "Snowmageddon" isn't expected.


Another winter of weather extremes appears to be in store for the USA.

The Pacific Northwest should see a wetter and colder winter than average, while most of the southern tier stays mild and dry, federal government scientists announced in their winter forecast on Thursday.

The dominant climate factor expected to affect the USA this winter is La Nina, a periodic cooling of tropical Pacific Ocean water that affects weather patterns across the USA and around the world.

"La Nina is in place and will strengthen and persist through the winter months, giving us a better understanding of what to expect between December and February," says Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center.

The forecast from the center covers the months of December, January and February, which is known as "meteorological" winter.

In the Pacific and interior Northwest, the cold, wet winter will help replenish water resources and winter recreation, the climate center reports, but could also lead to greater flooding and avalanche concerns.

The lack of precipitation and unusual warmth for most of the southern USA could exacerbate drought conditions and also spark wildfires from southern California to Florida. "The story of this winter is likely to be the dry conditions across the South," says Halpert.

The outlook does not forecast where and when snowstorms may hit or total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts depend on winter storms, which usually can't be predicted more than a few days in advance.



However, the Mid-Atlantic region isn't likely to see a repeat of last winter's colossal snow totals, reports Halpert, as the main winter storm track appears to be closer to the Ohio Valley region. Washington, D.C., which averages 15 inches of snow a winter, received a record 56 inches in the winter of 2009-10.

Resource from: USA today

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