Saturday, October 20, 2018

Tampa Bay Weather

Wet and mild: Warm winter predicted for much of the U.S.

WASHINGTON ó Winter looks wet and especially mild for much of the country, thanks to a weak El Nino brewing, U.S. meteorologists said.

Tampa meteorologist Jennifer Hubbard said the Tampa Bay area can except mostly the same, with mild winter temperatures near or slightly above average, as well as more rain than usual.

Hubbard said the bay areaís streak of record-breaking hot weather in October is not related to El Nino, but is instead caused by a combination of factors, such as dry high pressure in the area the past few weeks ó which blocks rainfall ó easterly winds and little sea breeze.

"All of that together, we basically bake," Hubbard said.

The Tampa Bay area should be in for a short-lived break on Sunday and Monday as a cold front moves through, Hubbard says, with highs projected to drop from the low 90s ó where theyíve consistently been all month ó to the lower-to-mid 80s, which is average for this time of year.

Along with the cooler weather will be drier air, Hubbard says, but only for two days.

"Then itís back to the warmer weather until we get closer to winter," she said. "Thatís when the bigger cold fronts not only come, but stay."

For the rest of the country this winter, no place in the United States is expected to be colder than normal, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the governmentís Climate Prediction Center.

The Southeast, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic can go any way on temperature, Halpert said. Overall the winter looks a lot like the past few, he said.

"The country as a whole has been quite mild since 2014-2015," Halpert said.

Winter weather expert Judah Cohen, of the private company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, uses different indicators to predict winter for the National Science Foundation. He also forecasts a warm winter, heavily based on weak snowfall in Siberia.

PRECIPITATION: Halpert said the southern one-third of the United States and much of the East Coast could be facing a wetter-than-normal December and January. The chances are highest in southeastern Georgia and much of northern and Central Florida.

Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, parts of Idaho, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are forecast to be drier than normal, with the biggest likelihood in Hawaii, Montana and Michigan.

The middle belt of the nation, and some of the north from California to New York, can go any which way on precipitation.

The weather serviceís forecast doesnít look at snow likelihood.

EL NINO: Halpert said the biggest factor in the forecast is a likely El Nino, the natural warming of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that influences weather worldwide.

The El Nino hasnít quite formed yet, but itís almost warm enough. Meteorologists predict thereís a 75 percent chance itíll be around this winter. But it will be weak, not strong like the El Nino that helped lead to the record warm 2015-2016 winter, Halpert said.

Times staff writer Josh Fiallo contributed to this report.