Though southern locales like Texas and Florida are known for being pretty warm in the winter, especially in contrast to the frigid conditions the Northeast experiences, the region could see the type of weather that calls for coats and gloves during the months of December and into the first part of 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting below-average temperatures for the south-central region of the U.S., including large swaths of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In fact, temperatures could average 40 percent lower than what they are typically.
What could have an impact on how the winter plays out is the development of El Nino, a weather phenomenon that’s so significant as to affect the world’s atmospheric conditions, NOAA pointed out. Earlier this month, NOAA scientists projected a 67 percent chance of El Nino before the year is out.
While conditions in the South and parts of New England are expected to be the opposite of what usually happens in these locales – NOAA says it could be warmer than normal in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine – it could be more of the same along the West Coast. California, for example, has experienced a major drought through much of 2014, and there’s no sign that Mother Nature will cooperate by bringing added moisture to the Pacific coast.
“Complete drought recovery in California this winter is highly unlikely,” said Mike Halpert, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center acting director. ” While we’re predicting at least a 2 in 3 chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow.”
He added that residents in this part of the country should take this information under advisement as they prepare.
Winter storms major cause of property losses
The summer and fall are often associated with environmental disasters, due to this being the prime period for hurricane formation. However, the damage caused by winter’s wrath can be every bit as devastating, if not more so. Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, based on statistics collected by the Insurance Information Institute. Only hurricanes and tornadoes, respectively, cost more. Additionally, from 1993 to 2012, winter storms cost approximately $28 billion in damage, much of which was paid for through homeowners insurance.
No matter how the cold weather period turns out, it’s a good idea to effectively winterize your residence. For example, due to precipitation and heavy winds, gutters that line the base of your home’s roof can easily get clogged up if they’re not cleaned out. Experts recommend cleaning out any debris that’s in them so rain, snow, sleet, or freezing rain can melt evenly, which should help prevent localized flooding.
Homeowners are also advised to seal cracks in walls and foundations to keep warm air from escaping and to repair walkways or stair steps, which tend to get slippery when there’s ice.