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NOAA sees weak La Niña, above-normal temperatures for most of US through March

Weak La Niña conditions should continue to linger over the next few months, extending through the winter of 2017 in the northern hemisphere, according to a recent diagnostic discussion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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La Niña is the counterpart to El Niño and is characterized by lower-than-normal sea surface temperatures across the equatorial eastern and central Pacific Ocean.

La Niña favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S. and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S. While the latest NOAA outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit, the agency said La Niña winters tend to favor above-average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies and below-average snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic.

Into the new year, above-normal temperatures are likely across much of the U.S., except for the southern tier, according to the latest maps updated Dec. 15 by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The agency is anticipating above-average readings for the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, much of the southern tier of the country and an area of the West Coast, from January 2017 through March 2017.

Below-average conditions are expected for an area of the north-central and northwestern U.S. over the three months, with the remainder of the nation having an equal chance of experiencing below-average, average and above-average temperatures.

As far as precipitation, below-normal levels are projected for much of the southern tier of the country, with above-average levels eyed for the Pacific Northwest and areas of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The rest of the country has an equal chance of seeing below-average, average and above-average precipitation levels through the three months.

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