Drier than average winter expected, but temps no sure bet

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After last year’s polar vortex, Chicagoans are likely not looking forward to another winter of mountainous snow piles and bitter temperatures. However, there is some good news for those already dreading the coming months.

“Last year’s winter was exceptionally cold and snowy across most of the United States, east of the Rockies. A repeat of this extreme pattern is unlikely this year,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its annual Winter Outlook, released Thursday.

And in fact, the upcoming winter will likely be drier than average, at least in the Midwest, according to the NOAA, with no repeat of last year’s 80-plus-inch snowfall expected.

But the temperature outlook is a little less certain, and it’s too soon to rule out another polar vortex.

As far as temperatures, the Chicago area, “falls into the ‘equal chance’ category, meaning that there is not a strong enough climate signal … to make a prediction, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures,” the NOAA said.

And FYI: Normal temperature in Chicago between December and February is about 26 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Accuweather.com has a more promising outlook for temperatures, relatively, calling for Midwest temperatures 7 to 9 degrees warmer than last year on average.

It also calls for below-average snowfall, saying, “Chicago could fail to reach 30 inches this year…”

On a less-scientific note, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, in its long-range outlook for the Chicago area, says,  “Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in late December, throughout January, and in early February.”

But, “Precipitation will be below normal … with the snowiest periods in mid-December, early and mid-January, and early February,” according to the publication’s website, almanac.com.

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