As the sun sets earlier and lattes change from cold to hot, some midwesterners wait in anticipation for the first snow of the season.
Experts, however, say this winter could be a relatively warm one.
The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration released its 2019-2020 Winter Outlook last week and things are looking, well, warm.
The southern half of Missouri and the majorities of Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas all share an up to 40% chance of a warmer-than-average winter, NOAA says.
Missouri’s long-term winter average — December to February — is 32.1 degrees, according to the Missouri Climate Center. The last several years, the state has experienced a “warm period” with winter temperatures averaging roughly 37 degrees between 2015 and 2017 before falling back to a 33 degree average the winter of 2017-2018, according to the center.
Similarly, Oklahoma has experienced higher average winter temperatures the last five years when compared to its long-term average of 38.9 degrees, reaching a whopping 43 degree average during the winters of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
Most of Texas and the southern portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas have an up to 50% chance of a warmer-than average winter, NOAA says. The northern plains including northern Missouri and most of Illinois and Indiana should see average winter temperatures, but NOAA says no portion of the U.S. is likely to experience cooler temperatures that normal.
So what does this mean for precipitation? Not much, NOAA says, unless you’re in the northern part of the country, with the northern portions of Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska along with Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin experiencing an up to 50% chance of above-average winter precipitation.
Between 1981 and 2010, Illinois saw an average 6.97 inches in winter precipitation, according to the State Climatologist Office for Illinois.
The “abnormally dry conditions” across the southern U.S. could see some relief with average winter precipitation in northwest Texas and the southwest part of the country, but central and southwest Texas have a 50% chance of seeing less winter precipitation than usual, NOAA says.
But don’t put your mittens and coats away just yet. The administration will update its predictions as winter approaches — the next update is scheduled for Nov. 21. But in the meantime, it’s looking like a milder winter for most of the central U.S.