While the National Weather Service warned on Thursday that southeast Michigan’s “cold season” has officially begun, its parent agency said that Michigan’s winter will be warmer and drier than average.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases a new official Winter Outlook each month, predicting winter temperatures and dangers throughout the country.
The NOAA’s outlook for winter 2018 found that southern Michigan has a 33 to 40 percent chance of experiencing a warmer and drier winter, while northern Michigan — including the Upper Peninsula — has a 40 to 50 percent chance.
This is in part, the agency said, because of a high chance of El Niño. The weather event occurs when winds in the Pacific Ocean push warmer surface waters eastward, toward the West Coast.
When El Niño coincides with winter, according to the weather service, Michigan and the rest of the Midwest experience a warmer season with precipitation more likely to be rain than snow. The NOAA currently predicts a 70 to 75 percent chance of El Niño developing, particularly in the late fall or early winter.
“Although a weak El Nino is expected, it may still influence the winter season by bringing wetter conditions across the southern United States, and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the north,” NOAA official Mike Halpert said in a statement.
Michigan will not be alone in experiencing a drier and warmer winter. Most of the country is expected to see above-average temperatures, while the north is likely to see dry weather and the south likely to see more humidity.