While it is still several weeks until the official start of winter on Dec. 21, several organizations are already unveiling their nationwide Winter 2022-2023 forecasts.
Among the winter outlooks issued by meteorologists so far, most agree that the southern United States will be drier and warmer than normal, with the best chance of colder and stormier-than-normal conditions in the northern tier, Midwest and Ohio Valley. Such projections reflect typical conditions that develop during La Niña events, which are associated with an episodic cooling of ocean waters in the tropical Pacific. This year, La Niña is forecast to prevail for a third straight winter.
Whether you are a fan of snow, here is the latest roundup of what meteorologists are saying about the weather in the coming months. For entertainment purposes, we also summarize the outlooks from the Farmers’ Almanac and its rival, the Old Farmer’s almanac — but meteorologists put little stock in those predictions.
NOAA’s latest forecast
Although the official winter forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will not come out for another few weeks, the agency’s Climate Prediction Center does issue official outlooks for temperature and precipitation up to 13 months in advance.
For the first three months when winterlike conditions begin in earnest — November, December and January — abnormal cold is not expected anywhere in the country. A large swath of the country, from the East Coast down into the Sun Belt and into the Mountain West, is projected to experience above-normal temperatures, with the highest probability of abnormal warmth in Arizona and New Mexico.
From February to April, above-normal temperatures are projected to continue along the East Coast, in the Southeast and into the Southwest, with the greatest chance of warmer weather along the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coastlines as well as parts of the Southwest. Below-average temperatures are forecast in the northern contiguous United States, stretching from northern Michigan to northern Washington state.
Precipitation-wise, the period from November to January is expected to bring below-average precipitation — and thus diminished early-season snow and rain chances — in much of the southern half of the country, with the greatest chances of below-normal precipitation forecast from coastal South Carolina and Florida all the way to the shores of far Southern California. Above-normal precipitation is possible in northwestern Montana, northern Idaho and northeastern Washington state.
From February to April, below-normal precipitation is forecast in the Southwest and coastal portions of the Southeast, but areas including Texas may see a respite from less-than-normal snowfall and rainfall. Above-normal precipitation is forecast in part of the Ohio Valley, an area that could pick up above-normal snowfall if temperatures remain low enough.
AccuWeather’s winter forecast
AccuWeather’s official 2022-2023 U.S. winter forecast is rather bleak for snow lovers. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok and his team say that this winter’s setup is complicated by several other factors — including the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption in the early days of 2022.
AccuWeather forecasters are predicting a more active severe thunderstorm season in the southeastern states during the winter months because of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures.
Pastelok said that the warmer ocean temperatures could help to fuel a “potentially big system” that could affect the East Coast in the latter half of winter. But in general, AccuWeather is predicting a season of less snowfall on the Eastern Seaboard.
While AccuWeather forecasts that snowfall will be suppressed, the company does not necessarily expect overall precipitation to be below normal as well, with milder temperatures leading to several all-rain events this winter. Those rainstorms may cause flooding in the Ohio Valley and along the Mississippi River, AccuWeather says.
During the back half of the winter, AccuWeather says, colder conditions finally will enter the country and drop cold air into the central United States, bringing heavy snow to parts of the central Plains and the Rocky Mountains. In the West, generally dry conditions will do little to ease the region’s persistent drought.
How will the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption play into the forecast? AccuWeather says that the lingering water vapor in the atmosphere from the eruption could cause a warmer winter than normal but that the magnitude of the effect is unknown.
Weather.com’s winter outlook
Weather.com’s official winter outlook — like NOAA’s and AccuWeather’s — calls for above-normal temperatures in the South, while far-northern parts of the continental United States manage to stay below average, these conditions being driven by La Niña.
December is favored to be the chilliest month on the Eastern Seaboard, with lower-than-normal temperatures expected from the Great Lakes down into parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. On the other side of the country, temperatures in the Southwest and the Rockies are expected to be well above average.
By January, most of the country is mild, with lower temperatures farther north and a serious chill entering the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region by February, while the Southeast — especially toward Florida, warms up.
WeatherBell’s winter forecast
The winter outlook from WeatherBell Analytics, a weather consulting firm, should put more pep in the step of snow lovers. The firm predicts temperatures that are normal to slightly below normal for nearly all of the country from November 2022 to March 2023.
The lowest temperatures are expected in the Ohio Valley into the Upper Midwest, which are forecast to be 1 to 3 degrees below normal.
Higher temperatures are forecast for the West; WeatherBell projects temperatures 1 to 3 degrees above normal in the Southwest. That part of the country also is expected to receive less snow than normal. That forecast extends to some popular California ski resorts.
WeatherBell is forecasting slightly above-normal snowfall, 125 percent of the seasonal average, in the Midwest, through the Ohio Valley and into the interior Northeast. It calls for snowfall to be above normal toward the East Coast as well.
Farmers’ Almanac forecast
The Farmers’ Almanac winter snow forecast is predicting an early start to winter, with a cold and stormy December. That storminess is not expected to slow in the eastern half of the country, with the almanac suggesting snowy conditions into the Northeast. Along the Interstate 95 corridor, which often is the rain-snow line for major storms, the Farmers’ Almanac suggests more snow than rain.
In the Southeast, the Farmers’ Almanac’s expected East Coast storms are more likely to bring rain, although chilly conditions that enter the region in January could cause wintry precipitation there, as well. The Farmers’ Almanac says temperatures in the Southeast and Northeast should become milder in February, though.
The Farmers’ Almanac says conditions in the Upper Midwest will be “glacial,” and it suggests there will be plenty of snow and chilly conditions for winter lovers to enjoy — including the potential for a White Christmas. In mid-January, the Farmers’ Almanac says, temperatures could drop as low as 40 degrees below zero in parts of the region.
The Farmers’ Almanac predicts that across the region, March will go out like a lion, with a variety of conditions, including heavy snowfalls, heavy rain and gusty thunderstorms.
Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a divided nation — with harsh winter in the East and mild weather in the West. Out West, even if temperatures are mild, the predicted above-average precipitation can help to ease the region’s drought.
In the East, the almanac predicts above-average snowfall for a vast area, from North Carolina to central New England to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, as well as the Great Plains.
The almanac forecasts cold and wet conditions down even into Florida, with the worst of the cold forecast for January. It says that temperatures there could drop 4 degrees below normal for the month — something that could result in a damaged citrus crop and stunned iguanas.