WASHINGTON — The weather forecast for this winter is mostly a shrug of the shoulders.
For most of the nation, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and even average weather. That's because of an absence of certain global weather factors, like El Nino — a warming of the central Pacific that affects temperatures and rainfall worldwide
NOAA's Mike Halpert said Thursday that the winter isn't likely to be too memorable or unusual, except in the South where drought should deepen in the southwest and develop in the southeast.
Forecasters expect unusual warmth from Arizona to Alabama and also in New England. The extreme U.S. north, around the Dakotas, is likely to be colder than normal.
Just because forecasters are predicting equal chances for nearly everything, that doesn't mean it has to be a normal year, said Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md. It just means the large-scale climate factors that forecasters use, such as El Nino, aren't giving them strong signals or patterns, he said.