The Weather Channel 2013-2014 winter outlook (TWC)

The Weather Channel (TWC) is out with its winter outlook, and it’s predicting that the current cold snap gripping much of the nation may not be a sign of what’s to come.

While TWC expects the November jet stream pattern to keep much of the Eastern U.S. colder than average at least through early November, much of the mid-winter period may see “most of that cold air … locked up in Canada,” according to TWC Winter Weather Expert Tom Niziol.

That’s not to say the winter will be particularly warm for anyone, either. “A winter of extreme cold or extreme warmth is not expected during the months from December to February,” according to the outlook.

The best chance of cold and snow in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast may come with a late-winter buckling of the jet stream “that could set up some pretty interesting late winter weather for that region,” Niziol said.

The most confident aspect of the outlook, according to Niziol, is that the Southwest U.S. will be warmer than average. Elsewhere, “it’s a little more cloudy for what we’re going to get for a solution.”

TWC’s forecast comes on the heels of an AccuWeather outlook that predicts below-average snowfall for the D.C. area this winter and, like TWC, sees late winter as having the best potential for cold and snow in the Eastern U.S.

Of course, you should treat any seasonal outlook with a healthy dose of skepticism, even Capital Weather Gang’s which is due out in early November. Winter is a particularly tough season to predict in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where an atmospheric phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation can have a big impact on snowfall, but can’t be reliably predicted more than about two weeks in advance.

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