NOAA, Salomon Predict Normal Winter
The recent string of record warm winters may come to a close
this winter, as normal (cold) weather is likely to return,
according to predictions from top weather experts at the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Salomon Smith
"We've probably forgotten over the last three years what a
normal winter is like. [But] with La Nina and El Nino out of the
way, normal winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this
year," said NOAA Administrator D. James Baker at a press briefing
last Thursday. If this proves true, demand for natural gas, heating
oil and electricity will be much greater.
Jon Davis, meteorologist for Salomon Smith Barney in Chicago,
came to the same conclusion. After three consecutive warm winters,
"the weather variables that we have examined do not, in our
opinion, tend to favor a fourth ultra-warm winter," he wrote in his
"2000-2001 Winter Outlook," a report scheduled for release today.
Rather, Salomon Smith Barney foresees "much more of a
historically normal type of winter for the nation as a whole,"
which is a "tremendous change" from the past couple of winters, he
said. "Nationwide, we see a high likelihood of early cold weather
(November) this winter...There is also a good chance of a great
deal of variability in temperatures during the heart of the winter.
Regionally, we foresee periodic surges of cold weather in the
Northeast quadrant of the U.S."
In the Northeast, "a polar jet stream and tropical jet stream
will duel for supremacy, and the polar jet stream will win," NOAA
forecasters said. This will bring a greater chance of more snow
along the Appalachians from New England to the Carolinas and points
east, including Washington D.C., Boston, New York, and
Philadelphia, they noted. Average temperatures in these cities
could be 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder than the last three winters.
The agency's weather experts further anticipate normal winter
conditions --- defined as those experienced between 1961-1990 ---
to occur in the Plains states (North and South Dakota, Nebraska and
Iowa) and in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana and Missouri).
"Cold air outbreaks will potentially lead to more days below
zero and heavier lake-effect snow in the western portions of
Pennsylvania and New York, northern Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and
northeastern Minnesota," according to NOAA's Winter Outlook.
Minnesota is expected to see average temperatures of 6 degrees
below the last three winters, while Chicago could have average
temperatures of 5 degrees lower, the NOAA report said.
In the Southeast, temperatures will likely be warmer than
normal, but slightly cooler than the last three winters, with all
of the Gulf Coast states (except Florida) favored to receive more
precipitation than usual. NOAA forecasters believe there is an
"enhanced likelihood" that Florida's weather this winter could be
"punctuated by cold air outbreaks, or 'Florida Freezes.'"
The Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington) is likely to have
near-normal precipitation for the winter season as a whole, weather
experts said. Seattle could see average winter temperatures of 1
degree below the past three winters, they noted. Further to the
North, Alaska is expected to experience normal temperatures and
precipitation this winter.
The exception will be in the Southwest and West (California and
Nevada), where warmer-than-normal temperatures are anticipated to
prevail this upcoming winter, NOAA climate forecasters said.
The public "must be careful this winter and prepare for a little
bit of everything," warned Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National
Weather Service. "We expect considerable swings in temperature and