NOAA released their winter guidance today and before all of you snow lovers panic, let me try to be the voice of reason.
They break their outlook down into 3 categories: cooler than average, warmer than average, and equal chances. The "equal chances" can be explained to me all day long and I'll still never understand. Basically, IMO, they area saying that they just don't know with the available information.
They are calling a good chance for above average temperatures. What is going to be? 1° above average or 4,5,6? There's a huge difference. Which is it?
They are calling for equal chances for above, below, and average precip. What about snow?
It's important to read the fine print in these forecasts as well.
"Other factors that influence winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation,
which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into
the South and is difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in
advance, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can affect the number of heavy rain events along the West Coast."
Here's an example of what can happen. I'M NOT SAYING IT WILL HAPPEN. Look no further than December of 2012. It was a VERY WARM month. Look at all those highs in the 60s and 70s. Temperatures were 5 degrees ABOVE average. That's outrageous for any month. HOWEVER, we all remember what happened on Christmas and the day following. 10-15 inches of snow and more than 250K lost electricity. Some lost it for more than a week.
Again, I'm not saying December 2012 is going to happen, but I'm using it as a tool to explain how things happen in the weather. While the winter as a whole could be close to average or even above average in terms of temperatures, 1 or 2 impactful events can change your entire perception
Hope I make sense and this helps out.