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NOAA Predicts Mild Michigan Winter Ahead

October 18, 2018 - 5:20 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - Unless frigid temps and feet of snow are your thing, there's some good news in the extended forecast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, releasing its Winter Outlook on Thursday, predicts that Michigan will see a warmer and drier than normal 2018/19 winter season. 

Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says their forecast calls for above average temperatures and below average precipitation for both the Lower and Upper Peninsula.

In fact, Halper said, nowhere in the U.S. is expected to be colder than normal; continuing a national trend over the past several years.

"The last four winters had all been very warm actually; almost coast-to-coast," Halper told WWJ's Michael Cohen. "The last cold winter that the country saw was back in 2013-14, and I'd expect Michigan to probably follow that pattern."

Along with Michigan, Halper said northern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin are expected to be drier than normal, along with parts of Idaho, Hawaii and Montana, too.

Meanwhile, the southern-third of the U.S. and much of the East Coast could be hunkering down for a wetter than normal December through January. 

When it comes to the heat, the biggest factors leading to this year's prediction is the 70 to 75 percent chance of an El Nino developing over the Pacific ocean, blowing warm winds from the west. However, Halper said, it's not expected to be quite as strong as the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 winter season. 

Another factor in the forecast, Halper said, is long-term warming from human-caused climate change. 

"All things being equal, the slight kick we get out of the climate signal does tilt things toward the warm side," Halpert said; cautioning, however, that that's not enough to outweigh other factors if they push toward cold.

"Even on a warming planet," he said, "it doesn't mean winter goes away and it's never cold again."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.