By Jeff Jamison, CBS11 News

Last week, Chief Meteorologist Larry Mowry issued his forecast for the upcoming winter season.  NOAA released their outlook today for winter.  By and large it jibes with what Larry had reported…that generally we’ll be drier than normal and slightly warmer than normal here in Texas.

hd monthly outlook precip NOAAs Winter Outlook & a WILD CARD!

hd monthly outlook temp NOAAs Winter Outlook & a WILD CARD!

La Nina is forecast to continue, if not strengthen, through the end of the year.  This Pacific Ocean phenomenon influences weather patterns over North America and usually brings fewer storm systems into the southwestern U.S. & Texas.  Unfortunately this means that the drought will likely continue unabated, and perhaps worsen into 2012.

La Nina winters in Texas are not without their share of precipitation and/or blasts of Arctic cold air however.  There is, as NOAA puts it, a “wild card” in the overall winter outlook:  the Arctic Oscillation.  The Arctic Oscillation is monitored to see if it’s in a positive phase or a negative phase.

arctic oscillation NOAAs Winter Outlook & a WILD CARD!

The Arctic Oscillation went to a strongly negative phase in both early 2010 and 2011.  Both events brought North Texas bitter cold and several inches of snow.  Unfortunately it is hard to forecast more than two weeks ahead of time.  But if the “AO” goes negative this winter, it is very likely we’ll see a few bouts of bitter cold…and if timed correctly we could also see ice or snow in North Texas.  You can track the Arctic Oscillation here with us this fall and winter.