La Niña Forecast to Bring a Winter of Weather Extremes
CAMP SPRINGS, Maryland, October 21, 2010 (ENS) - Warmer and drier than average weather is in store for the South and Southeast regions through February 2011, while the Pacific Northwest should brace for a colder and wetter than average winter, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said today in its annual Winter Outlook.

A moderate to strong La Niña pattern will be the dominant climate factor influencing weather across most of the United States this winter.

Jeffers Hill, Maryland was buried in snow, February 20, 2010 (Photo by Jeff Kubina)

La Niña is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, the opposite of El Niño which is associated with warmer than normal water temperatures.

Both of these climate phenomena, which typically occur in two to five year cycles, influence weather patterns throughout the world and often lead to extreme weather events.

Last winter's El Niño contributed to record-breaking rain and snowfall leading to severe flooding in some parts of the country, with record heat and drought in other parts of the country.

"La Niña 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," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. "This is a good time for people to review the outlook and begin preparing for what winter may have in store."

"Other climate factors will play a role in the winter weather at times across the country," said Halpert. "Some of these factors, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, are difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance. The NAO adds uncertainty to the forecast in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic portions of the country."

Regional highlights:

This seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or total seasonal snowfall accumulations, says the Climate Prediction Center. Snow forecasts are dependent upon winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than several days in advance.

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