Northern Ohio probably will be colder and wetter this winter, according to Thursday’s predictions by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is a 40 percent chance it will be wetter than usual in Ohio and a 33 percent chance that northern Ohio will be colder than usual, the agency said in a teleconference.
The forecast covers December through February. It comes in the wake of a similar prediction from AccuWeather.com that calls for a bitterly cold and snowy winter in Northeast Ohio.
The United States is facing another “La Niña winter,” and that means the drought in Texas is expected to continue and expand into the southeast, NOAA spokesman David Brown said.
The drought is severely affecting Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and to a lesser extent five neighboring states: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Rainfall is up to 30 inches below normal in parts of the Southwest over the past 12 months, Brown said. It was also the hottest summer since 1895 in Texas and Oklahoma.
The drought has had a $5 billion negative economic impact on Texas and $1.5 billion on Oklahoma, he said. It has triggered wildfires that have burned 3.5 million acres and led 600 water systems to curtail water use.
Brown said it appears the drought will spread this winter into Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
The United States experienced a La Niña winter a year ago. The phenomenon is triggered by colder-than-usual water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It affects weather patterns around the globe.
La Niña usually produces warmer and drier conditions in the southern United States and colder and wetter conditions across the northern part of the country.
The La Niña conditions surfaced in August and are expected to strengthen gradually and continue through the coming winter, NOAA said.
“The evolving La Niña will shape this winter,” said Mike Halbert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md.
Weather also might be affected by what Halbert called “a wild card.” That is the little-known and less predictable Arctic Oscillation that can change weather greatly by pushing cold air from Canada into the United States.
It can “overwhelm or amplify La Niña’s typical impacts,” he said.
The Arctic Oscillation over the North Atlantic Ocean can cause dramatic, short-term swings in temperatures across the northern U.S., NOAA said. It has caused heavy snows and cold at times in the past two winters.
Arctic Oscillation episodes typically last for a few weeks and are difficult to forecast, Halbert said.
The NOAA seasonal outlook does not predict where or when snowstorms might hit or provide estimates of snowfall accumulations. Snow totals are dependent on winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.