This December May End Up (Much of the time) being the UnDecember

With a very Strong El Nino still going full tilt, this month is shaping up to be milder than average. That may sound like an understatement, and it is. But it will be very difficult to get any cold pattern with staying power into the eastern US at least into mid-month. El Nino is the major player right now, and an El Nino of this strength/amplitude doesn’t happen often. In fact, the last El Nino similar in strength occurred back in 1997-98. Even though no 2 El Ninos are identical, a very Strong El Nino is associated with milder than average temperatures across the northern tier of the lower 48. However, as we go further out in time in the 2nd half of the month uncertainties will increase. There are hints in extended range models and clusters of models we call ensembles that ups and downs will become more frequent later in the month. That could allow for more quick hits of wintry weather. The pattern is still likely to be what we call “progressive”. By that, I mean systems will keep on the move rather than block up and become more nearly stationary (as was the case so often last winter). One distinguished long range specialist, Dr. Judah Cohen, sees some chance for a blocky pattern to begin to develop near Greenland/the North Atlantic by the end of the month. IF that were to occur, the NE would turn colder and probably stormier. But Cohen says if that doesn’t start to happen by early January, we are likely to see a milder than average winter all the way through. The NWS’ Climate Prediction Center has higher probabilities for a warmer than average winter all the way through the season. The caveats are: (1) the CPC doesn’t have the best track record in their recent winter outlooks and (2) El Nino will begin to weaken during the winter, even though it is modeled to remain in the Strong catergory. As usual, “4Warn Weather will keep you updated.” (Hey, that’s better than “Stay tuned!”)

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