Average snow, warmer weather forecast | VailDaily.com

Average snow, warmer weather forecast

Bob Berwyn
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Keeping warm (indoors) this winter is going to be more expensive as Colorado gas and electricity utilities raise their rates.

Timed perfectly to arrive a week after Colorado’s first significant fall snowstorm, weather experts with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration have released their outlook for the winter, predicting above-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation for much of the U.S. The outlook won’t help anyone waiting to buy a season ski pass in Colorado. There are no clear indications whether the state might experience the longed-for big winter. In fact, in the agency’s outlook, chances are equal for above-average, near-average or below-average snow in Colorado.The forecasters said they don’t expect either La Niña or El Niño to play any significant role this winter. Without those large-scale patterns, the forecasters are looking to other short-term factors that might help predict winter conditions. That includes the so-called “North Atlantic Oscillation.”

“Under these conditions there tends to be more variability in winter weather patterns across the nation, especially in the Great Lakes region and the northeast U.S.,” the agency says on its Web site.Warmer temperatures are expected across much of the central and western U.S. Including Alaska and Hawaii, while the odds are even for warmer, cooler or near-normal temperatures in the Midwest, along the Southern California coast and on the East Coast.Precipitation is forecast to be higher than normal across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and northeastern Texas, with drier-than-normal conditions across the Southwest from Arizona to New Mexico.

Drought conditions across the country have eased somewhat, with about 20 percent of the U.S. experiencing some level of drought, compared to 30 percent at the same time last year. Drought remains a concern for the sixth year in a row for the Northwest and the northern Rockies. It would take a number of significant snowstorms to bring drought relief in those regions.The U.S. wildfire season through Sept. 30 is approximately double the 10-year average acreage burned. More than 8 million acres have burned so far in 2005, approaching the record annual acreage burned, which occurred in 2000.The weather agency also announced Sept. 2005 was the fourth-warmest September on record, while global land surface temperatures were the warmest ever. Three East Coast states had their driest September ever, while the month was the 11-driest on record across the country. The average temperature for the U.S. was 2.6 degrees above the mean for 1895-2004.

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