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Prepare for a warm winter: How the NOAA's Winter Outlook could affect East Texas

The start of meteorological winter is just six weeks away and the long-range forecasts are helping us prepare.

TYLER, Texas — Winter is coming, whether we like it not, and these forecasts are issued to help us prepare for what we could face. 

On Thursday, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its long-range winter forecast for the 2021-22 season.

Here's a look at the big picture: 

Credit: NOAA

Drilling down a bit to look at Texas and East Texas, you will see we have a 40-60% chance of seeing above-average temperatures between the beginning of December and end of February. From time to time, cold blasts of air will move through the region.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), a branch within NOAA, based a lot of this year's forecast on an expected La Niña weather pattern in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Niña was also present last year.

Here's, typically, what La Niña means for Texas:

Credit: CBS19

As you can see in the graphic above, La Niña usually results in dry and warm conditions for most of Texas. So, it comes as no shock that NOAA's precipitation outlook includes most of the southern plains to have near or below-average rain and snow this winter. 

Credit: NOAA

The drier-than-average forecast does not bode well for the worsening drought situation that's developed since Aug. By looking at the graphic below, you can see the drought is likely to persist or further development of drought is likely.

 These two categories cover most of the state:

Credit: Climate Prediction Center

And now let's recap how the outlook could impact East Texas.

Credit: KYTX

Before we go, here are a couple of things to keep in mind: 

Yes, this is a seasonal outlook. These seasonal outlooks are considered skillful forecasts with better than 50% accuracy. That's hard to do. 

Yes, there will be days that are very cold. There has to be if this forecast is correct. Otherwise, it would call for a 100% chance of warmer than average drier than average weather. If you'll recall, we had record-breaking cold for two weeks in February, otherwise, the rest of the winter was warmer than average. 

If you have any questions, reach out to the CBS19 Weather Team at weather@cbs19.tv.