The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has concluded that an El Nino winter is no longer in the cards and as a result, has slightly changed the seasonal forecast.
Colder-than-normal weather is now more likely than before in the northern Plains, while the southern U.S. is less likely to see a wetter-than-normal winter, according to a forecast released Thursday.
But don't bet on it. “This winter forecast is one of the most challenging we've faced for several years,” said Jon Gottschalck, a seasonal forecaster for the Climate Prediction Center, which is housed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The tweaks in the forecast are due to conditions in the Pacific Ocean.
Warmer-than-normal waters in the central Pacific have had meteorologists believing that an El Nino winter was in the offing. Typically when ocean waters warm and an El Nino is brewing, there's more tropical rainfall, which in turn fuels global weather patterns. However, those tropical rains aren't materializing, so forecasters are less certain about winter.
To shift away from an El Nino trend this late in the fall is unusual. Gottschalck said he's not sure what's happening, but one possibility is that cooler temperatures in the northern Pacific are upending El Nino in the central Pacific.
As with so many winters in Nebraska and Iowa, the forecast indicates that just about any kind of winter is possible.
Source: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center