Tomorrow, the Climate Prediction Center, a branch within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the National Weather Service, will issue the "official" government forecast for the winter season.The primary influences are expected to be the developing El Nino and the large region of anomalously warm ocean water surrounding much of Alaska.

The El Nino is expected to create a region of very warm ocean water in the equatorial region of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Thunderstorms that form in this warm water are likely to force downstream changes to the jet stream over North America. Meanwhile, the warm water surrounding Alaska is likely to delay the development of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The outlook for our region is likely to include a fairly high probability of a warmer-than-average winter season, particularly the months of December through February. The forecast for precipitation will likely be less conclusive, with near-equal chances of wetter and drier than average winter precipitation.