Meteorologists are predicting an overall mild trend this winter in Maryland and across the country, but said there could also be volatile periods of frigid weather in the coming months.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for more than a one in three chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic, though that means temperatures could still average close to or below normal in some areas. It suggests that instead of equal chances for normal, above-normal or below-normal temperatures, a warm trend is slightly more likely than the other scenarios.
Seasonal forecasting is always tricky, but made more difficult this winter because there not expected to be an El Niño or La Niña global climate pattern to suggest any weather trends. El Niño is associated with heavy snowfall in the Baltimore region, while La Niña often brings mild, largely snowless winters.
Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said Thursday that means other large scale climate patterns could drive weather, which “could result in large swings in temperature and precipitation.”
One climate indicator that he said could be relevant this winter is known as the Arctic Oscillation, which can either keep frigid air confined to the North Pole region, or can send it spilling southward into middle latitudes.
A tendency toward mild temperatures is forecast across most of the country, including in the West and Southwest, along the Gulf Coast, into the Southeast and in New England. Equal chances of above- or below-normal temperatures are expected in the northern Plains and around the western Great Lakes.