NOAA Outlook – Mild Winter Expected in East Texas
A warmer than normal winter is what we can expect this winter. An outlook released from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently indicates that Texas has a good chance to see above normal temperatures over the next few months.
This outlook coincides with the Climate Prediction Center, which also indicates that things might be pretty dry here as well. According to the outlook, there’s a good chance to see below normal rainfall in those months.
This outlook is a combination of local climatology and other large scale features such as the jet stream, the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation. We also work in effects from El Nino and La Nina when making long range outlooks.
According to the Oceanic Nino Index, the influence of El Nino pretty much went neutral in August, so we’re not really seeing much of an effect from that. We’re also not expected to move much towards La Nina either.
Another contributing factor is the Arctic Oscillation. This is a pool of cold air around the North Pole. It’s contained by strong upper level winds. When this happens it’s in a “positive phase.” However if those upper level winds are not as strong, some of that cold air can move south into the U.S. This is what we call a “negative phase.” It looks like this will happen from time to time, but that doesn’t mean it’ll make it all the way to Texas. In fact we can pretty much guarantee it. However you may hear in the news talks of another “polar vortex.”
Another thing we look at is the North Atlantic Oscillation. This is the combination of high and low pressures over the Atlantic Ocean, which shape the jet stream. This is a big factor in the amount of rain we might see. When this is in a positive phase, there is a strong area of high pressure over the Atlantic, and that tends to lead to wetter conditions. When this high pressure is weaker, we tend to see more dry time.
In short it looks like we’ll see a fairly mild and somewhat dry winter… but what does that translate to for us. Well when looking at climatology for Tyler, the normal high drops from the middle 70s in late October, to the middle 50s in late December and early January. We also normally pick up 11.11 inches of rain from December through February. As for snow… well we know it’s hard to come by here. In 2017 and 2019 we picked up a trace of snow in the winter months, but in 2018 we actually saw measured 1.5” of snow between January and February.
With all that being said, we will likely still have our fair share of cold days and wet days as well.