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U.S. Forecasts Warmer Than Normal Winter


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U.S. Forecasts Warmer Than Normal Winter




WASHINGTON (AP) - Government forecasters on Wednesday predicted a warmer than normal winter, offering hope to much of the Midwest and West as concern grows about the rising costs of heating during cold weather.


The National Weather Service said there is a 60 percent chance of warmer than normal weather in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, north Texas, northern New Mexico and southern and eastern Colorado.


States adjoining that area, plus Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii also have a chance of being warmer than usual.


Other regions could be warmer or cooler than usual but no area was singled out to be especially cold.


"Even though the average temperature over the three-month winter season is forecast to be above normal in much of the country, there will still be bouts of winter weather with cold temperatures and frozen precipitation,'' said NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr.


The rain and snowfall outlook calls for wetter-than-normal conditions across most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas. Drier-than-normal conditions are expected across the Southwest from Arizona to New Mexico.


The forecasters noted that for the sixth year in a row, drought remains a concern for parts of the Northwest and northern Rockies. Wet or dry conditions during the winter typically have a significant impact on drought conditions.


One factor in this winter's weather is the North Atlantic Oscillation, which can shift the jet stream that helps drive the movement of winter storms, the forecasters said.


In one phase, the jet stream shifts to the north of its usual position and the winter weather features relatively warm days over much of the contiguous U.S. In contrast, during the negative phase the jet stream shifts to the south, bringing in Nor'easters and more frequent cold air outbreaks and snowstorms, especially along the East Coast.


The phase of the oscillation is difficult to anticipate more than one to two weeks in advance.



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