NOAA: Expect a dry winter in parts of Southeast, Southwest

Story highlights

  • Dry winter seen for U.S. Southeast, Southwest
  • NOAA's seasonal outlook projects more snow for northern Rockies, rain for Hawaii
  • Warmer-than-average winter seen for New England, Southwest

The coming winter is likely to bring a new drought to parts of the Southeast and little relief for the long-parched Southwest, federal forecasters reported Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's seasonal outlook predicts below-average precipitation in those regions, while the northern Rocky Mountains will see more snow and Hawaii more rain than usual.

Large portions of the Southwest and the Plains states have been dealing with a three-year drought that has begun to ease only in the past few months.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry extended a drought emergency proclamation at the beginning of November, citing threats to aquifers and reservoirs and an increased risk of wildfires across all but 10 of the state's 254 counties.

New England, the Southwest, south-central states and parts of the Southeast are expected to have a warmer-than-average winter, while the northern Plains will be colder than normal, NOAA reported. Alaska's Panhandle will be colder and drier than average, while western Alaska will be warmer than usual, it said.

NOAA said the winter isn't expected to be influenced by either an El Nino or La Nina, the oscillating Pacific Ocean climate patterns driven by sea surface temperatures. El Nino years result in a warmer eastern Pacific, wetter winters and drier summers, while a La Nina typically has the reverse effect.

"Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two," Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement accompanying the forecast. "So it's important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter."

    Winter officially begins December 21.