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Winter 2015-2016 Outlook
Updated October 15, 2015 - Jeff Boyne

 

On October 15, 2015, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released their first outlook for the 2015-16 meteorological winter (December 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016).  This year’s El Niño, among the strongest on record (rivaling 1982-83 and 1997-98 for the strongest since 1950), is expected to greatly influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.  

While El Niño is expected to be the main contributor this winter, other factors may also play a role.  These include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of Arctic air masses that penetrate into the Southern United States and nor'easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can impact the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Outlook

Winter 2015-2016 Temperature Outlook

For the upcoming 2015-2016 winter, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) temperature forecasts strongly reflect typical El Niño temperature anomalies in the United States.  This includes:

  • Warmer-than-normal conditions favored across much of the west and the northern half of the contiguous United States, Alaska, and much of Hawaii.  
     
  • Cooler-than-normal conditions are favored in the Southern Plains and the Southeast United States.  

Locally, above-normal temperatures are favored for southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and western Wisconsin

While temperature impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number, and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.

Winter 2015-16 U.S. Temperature Outlook
CPC's Winter 2015-16
U. S. Temperature Outlook

 

Winter 2015-2016 Precipitation Outlook 

For the upcoming 2015-2016 winter, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) precipitation forecasts strongly reflect typical El Niño precipitation anomalies in the United States.  This includes: 

  • Wetter-than-normal conditions most likely in the southern tier of the United States, from central and southern California, across Texas to Florida, and up the East Coast to southern New England. Above-average precipitation is also favored in southeastern Alaska.
     
  • Drier-than-normal conditions most likely for Hawaii, central and western Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, and for areas near the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Locally, there are equal-chances for above-, near-, and below-normal precipitation in southeast Minnesotanortheast Iowa, and western Wisconsin.

While precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Snow storms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number, and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.

Winter 2015-16 U.S. Temperature Outlook
CPC's Winter 2015-16
U. S. Precipitation Outlook

 

The video below provides more background on how the Climate Prediction Center made this forecast along with the potential wild cards that may affect the 2015-2016 winter.