What Utilities Should Expect From the Weather This Winter

What kinds of weather conditions will utilities have to contend with this winter? A new report, “U.S. Winter Outlook,” from the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service (NWS) provides some insight. The NWS is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

NOAA’s seasonal outlooks provide predictions on where temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average, and how drought conditions are anticipated to change in the months ahead. The outlook does not project seasonal snowfall accumulations, since snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

“NOAA’s new supercomputers are enabling us to develop even better, more detailed forecast capabilities, which we’ll be rolling out in the coming years,” said Michael Farrar, Ph.D., director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Summary Predictions

According to the report, this year’s La Niña will return for the third consecutive winter, bringing warmer-than-average temperatures for the Southwest and along the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard.

In addition, from December 2022 to February 2023, NOAA predicts drier-than-average conditions across the South; and wetter-than-average conditions for areas of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, northern Rockies, and Pacific Northwest.

NOAA forecasters, in collaboration with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), continue to monitor extreme, ongoing drought conditions that have persisted in the Western U.S. since late 2020, as well as parts of the central U.S. where historic low-water conditions are currently present. “Drought conditions are now present across approximately 59% of the country, but parts of the Western U.S and southern Great Plains will continue to be the hardest hit this winter,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “With the La Niña climate pattern still in place, drought conditions may also expand to the Gulf Coast.”

Temperature Predictions in Specific

The U.S. Winter Outlook 2022-2023 report predicts that the greatest chances for warmer-than-average conditions will be in western Alaska, and the Central Great Basin and Southwest extending through the Southern Plains. Warmer-than-average temperatures are also expected in the Southeastern U.S. and along the Atlantic coast. Below-normal temperatures are expected from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the western Great Lakes and the Alaska Panhandle.

Precipitation Predictions in Specific

The U.S. Winter Outlook report for precipitation predicts wetter-than-average conditions are most likely to occur in western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Drier-than-average conditions are forecast for portions of California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, the southern Plains, the Gulf Coast, and much of the Southeast. The remainder of the U.S. is expected to fall into the category of equal chances for below-, near-, or above-average seasonal total precipitation.

Drought Predictions in Specific

The seasonal U.S. Drought Outlook for November 2022 through January 2023 predicts persistent widespread drought across much of the West, the Great Basin, and the central-to-southern Great Plains. In addition, the drought is expected to impact the middle and lower Mississippi Valley this winter. Drought development is expected to occur across the South-Central and Southeastern U.S., However, drought conditions are expected to improve across the Northwestern U.S. over the coming months.


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