Winter weather warmer than normal, energy costs low

During the past month, sea-surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean have changed little. As a result, the current ENSO neutral phase appears to be persisting and the development of El Nino has been halted or at least slowed. The latest long-range climate models suggest the ENSO phase will remain neutral throughout much of winter.

Sea-surface temperatures are running warmer than average across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which could leave open the possibility of a weak El Nino’s developing in the upcoming few months. As far as January, warmer than average temperatures are predicted across the Desert Southwest, southern Rockies and parts of Texas. A total monthly heating degree-day deficit of between 30 and 60 is projected across these regions. Heating costs should be lower than average.

Slightly colder than average temperatures might occur across part of the northern Rockies, northern Plains and the Northeast. The forecast for below normal temperatures in the Northeast is based largely on the North Atlantic Oscillation’s (NAO’s) remaining negative. If the NAO flips to a more positive pattern during the next month or two, milder conditions could result. A monthly heating degree-day surplus of between 30 and 60 is forecast during January.

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