How El Nino will affect the US this winter

With record ocean temps, this could alter El Nino in ways we've never seen.

September 25, 2023, 5:05 PM

Fall may have just begun, but meteorologists are already looking at the upcoming winter season's forecast with the help of El Nino.

El Nino is a warmer than normal surface ocean temperature in the eastern equatorial Pacific, which impacts weather around the world, including the United States.

The warm ocean helps change the Pacific jet stream's position, allowing warmer-than-normal air to move into parts of North America.

Usually, the United States begins to see significant impacts of El Nino in the late fall and early winter and these impacts last into early spring.

What is an El Nino winter?

On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.

Meanwhile, the South is wetter than normal due to the active subtropical jet that is fueled by warm, moist air from the Pacific Ocean.

Additionally, the Ohio Valley and mid-Mississippi River Valley are forecast to stay drier than normal, which could worsen drought in the area.

PHOTO: On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
ABC News

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its winter outlook for the U.S. and it looks very similar to a traditional El Nino winter.

El Nino's 2023 winter forecast for US

Temperatures are forecast to be warmer than normal for all of the northern U.S., from northern California, Oregon and Washington to Pennsylvania, New York and into New England.

NOAA says that temperatures will stay closer to the 30-year average for the South.

PHOTO: On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
ABC News

For the precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, etc.), the northern states could see below-normal snowfall, especially in the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes.

Across most of the South, wetter than normal conditions are expected, especially in the Southeast from Louisiana to Florida and into the Carolinas.

For the Northeast, there is a chance that this will be a wetter than normal winter from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, to New York City and into southern New England.

With warmer-than-normal temperatures forecast for the Northeast, major I-95 corridor cities will see more rain than snow.

With record-warm ocean waters this year around the globe, this could alter El Nino in a way we have not seen before.

One other thing to note, this is all a probability forecast. The atmosphere is very fluid and dynamic, and forecasts could change.

PHOTO: On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
On average, during an El Nino winter, the northern U.S. sees warmer than average temperatures, as the polar jet stream stays north and keeps the cold air in Canada.
ABC News
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