The latest U.S. winter outlook spells trouble for dry California. Temperatures are likely to dip to the 40s in some northern areas.
California should see its warmest year-to-year winter for 18 years, according to the latest winter forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The average temperature for this winter will hover above the 20s in the north and below 50 in the south. That’s as warm as the last four years combined.
NOAA forecasters expect the dry Northern California coast to see the coldest winter on record. Temperatures will dip to the mid-20s, about 40 degrees below normal, in parts of the North Bay and San Francisco Bay Area and even lower into the 40s in parts of the Napa Valley and L.A.
The long-term average is a slight decrease from the record high of 41.4 degrees in 2016, the highest temperature on record for the northern half of the state.
The last time the northernmost state had a record cold winter was in 1998, when the average high temperatures in the northern two-thirds of the state dropped to the low-20s.
NOAA says that the warm weather is likely to continue, with the average temperature likely to rise 2 to 3 degrees above normal for the next three months.
The current record high was set in 2016 when temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees above normal in the northern two-thirds of the state.
Last winter was the warmest on record in California when it comes to temperature-adjusted precipitation. The state had its wettest winter, according to NOAA.
NOAA expects the wettest winter to come in again, with a “typical dry winter of high pressure in the Northern Sierra and in the Southeast and Southern deserts” — meaning those areas in the southwest and northeast that are typically dry are likely to have above average precipitation.
The current state-fair weather is likely to have the state “truly in an early season storm season,” which means that the dry winters are likely to extend into spring.
NOAA’s winter outlook is in part based on a forecast from the NWS Office of the Chief Forecaster.