DES MOINES, Iowa – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued its Winter Outlook for 2023 and 2024 and it points to the potential for warmer than average conditions in Iowa.

Image Credit: NOAA

The strongest signal for the upcoming winter appears to be the likelihood of warmer conditions. Most of the northern part of the United States has a decent chance of seeing warmer-than-average temperatures, including the state of Iowa. This is not uncommon during El Nino years (which will be explained further below). Parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have the potential to see temperatures near normal.

Image Credit: NOAA

In terms of precipitation, there isn’t a strong indicator of whether Iowa will see more or less precipitation than normal. State Climatologist Justin Glisan says some recent El Nino winters have trended slightly wetter in Iowa, which could be a possibility. Much of the Great Lakes Region is forecast to see dry conditions, particularly in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. A fair portion of the southern United States can expect a fairly wet winter.

Image Credit: NOAA

Iowa has been experiencing a drought for the last several years and this winter likely won’t bring much in the way of relief. Drought conditions are forecast to persist for the northwestern half of the state. There is some chance we could see slight improvements for central and southeastern Iowa, but the removal of the drought is not expected given the large precipitation deficits in place.

This winter’s forecast largely matches the pattern found in El Nino winters. Those winters are caused by the weakening of the trade winds along the equator. Trade winds normally push the warm water off the coast of South America to the west. When the trade winds weaken, that warm water stays in place, causing ocean temperatures in the Pacific to rise along South America. This pattern is known as El Nino.

El Nino winters typically bring wetter conditions along the southern United States and warm conditions in the north. Dry weather is often experienced in the Great Lakes region and in the Ohio Valley.

Of course, winter always brings its ups and downs! Stick with WHO 13 for the very latest through the upcoming winter months!