MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This winter will be a little cooler and wetter than usual thanks to an unusually strong El Niño in the Pacific.
CBS4 chief meteorologist Craig Setzer said the very warm ocean water near the equator in the Pacific is adding extra energy to the atmosphere over the U.S. and this energy will be felt as a stronger than normal, southern US storm track.
Typically weather systems march west to east across the country in the winter months with cold fronts weakening as they reach South Florida.
In an El Niño winter, December through February, a strong jet stream further south than normal will energize cold fronts with moisture and instability. This increased activity in the atmosphere give us more clouds and cooler temperatures, more rain and wind, and the risk of more tornado outbreaks over the entire state, according to Setzer.
Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say with the jet stream further south, the western and northern states will most likely see above-average temperatures. Temperatures are also favored to be above-average in Alaska and much of Hawaii.
This year’s El Niño, among the strongest on record, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.
“While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and 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,”said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South 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.