NOAA released its official winter outlook Thursday morning, predicting a higher probability for above average temperatures across much of the country, and above average precipitation for much of the Upper Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes. Forecasters say that even though colder than average temperatures are not favored, there will likely be some areas that end up with temperatures below average for the winter season (December-February).
The El Niño Southern Oscillation often times influences our winter weather here in the United States, however forecasters with NOAA say we are currently in neutral conditions (neither El Niño or La Niña are present) and those are expected to last through Spring 2020. This means long-term trends played more of a role in the winter outlook. It also means that other climate patterns such as the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations, as well as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, will likely determine more of our winter weather locally. Arctic air masses are more frequent when the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations are in their negative phase. Unfortunately, the predictability for those types of climate patterns is limited to just a couple weeks.
So even though there is no clear sign as to whether or not our temperatures will end up below or above average this winter, there are signs that the winter months could provide above average precipitation here in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. It’s just a matter of whether or not it will be snow or rain, or a combination of both.