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WxRisk Forecast: Winter's Chill Centered in Midwest

Turning its back on "group think" evidenced in a recent series of winter weather forecasts, last week said it expects the Midwest -- not the East -- to experience the coldest temperatures relative to normal this winter.

The online service, which specializes in extended weather forecasting and risk management, said in its preliminary winter forecast that the coldest temperatures relative to normal will be seen in an area stretching from the Ohio Valley into the eastern Plains and as far south as the Kansas/Oklahoma border.'s forecast calls for several significant colder outbreaks during the season which will drive into the midwestern Plains before turning towards the Northeast. Above-normal precipitation is expected along the West Coast, especially California, said.

Andover, MA-based WSI Corp. has said it expects the November-January period to average cooler than normal across both the eastern and south-central United States, with above-normal temperatures dominating the western and north-central regions (see NGI, Oct. 26). WSI's winter forecast calls for a continuation of below-normal temperatures dominating in the East in February, with above-normal temperatures across the northwestern half of the country.

WSI's outlook was in line with forecasts issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi (see NGI, Oct. 19). NOAA and Bastardi each called for colder weather across portions of the East in coming months, and each said the nation's winter weather will be significantly effected by El Nino. But NOAA said it expected the current El Nino -- the warming of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean -- to strengthen and persist through the winter, while Bastardi said El Nino will fade over the same period.

The current El Nino "has been rather flat" for most of September and October, but there is data indicating that it is strengthening to the low end of the moderate category, according to "If the El Nino does reach the moderate threshold and holds that level for a few weeks...those very cold forecasts are going to fail," the forecaster said. is scheduled to release its final winter forecast Nov. 16.

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