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Forecasters: North Texas winter should be drier and warmer - or not

Winter weather forecast for North Texas

Dan Huckaby, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, talks about a warmer winter, but a icy surprise is always possible.
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Dan Huckaby, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, talks about a warmer winter, but a icy surprise is always possible.

The long-range weather outlook suggests that this winter will likely be warmer and drier than normal.

Forecasters are saying there’s a 70 percent chance that La Niña will form in the equatorial Pacific. That weather pattern, where sea surface temperatures typically cool, usually leads to warmer and drier weather across the southern United States.

So the assumption would be that North Texas probably won’t see any ice or snow this winter.

But Dan Huckaby, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said not so fast.

“We could see one or two really severe Arctic outbreaks this winter,” Huckaby said. “All it takes is one big event to change everybody’s outlook about what kind of winter we had.”

Nov. 22: Average first freeze at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

While La Niña usually draws most of the attention, Huckaby said other weather conditions in the Atlantic and northern Pacific could allow Arctic air to “dive south” a few times this winter.

A repeat of the cobblestone ice that came in December 2013 is unlikely, but North Texas could see conditions similar to the Super Bowl ice storm in 2011, which came in an otherwise warm winter.

Huckaby said there are still some questions about how strong La Niña will be this year. The snowiest winters across North Texas tend to occur when neither La Niña nor its sister weather pattern, El Niño, occur.

Last winter, only a trace of snowfall fell at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and there’s never been a winter in the Metroplex without at least a trace of snowfall.

Should a dry and warm winter persist, drought and wildfires will be a concern.

Drought has started creeping back into the Metroplex and parts of northeast Texas are currently in a moderate drought.

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said he expects the threat of wildfires to increase this winter.

“We’re already seeing it in the northeast part of the state,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “There’s a lot of fuel out there.”

For now, the talk of winter is just that — all talk.

The above-normal temperatures will likely stick around into the first week of November.

This will be one of the warmest Octobers on record.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Huckaby

“For the next several weeks, it’s really looking quite warm,” Huckaby said. “This will be one of the warmest Octobers on record. For the month-to-date, it’s already in the top 10. We could easily end up being the warmest on record.”

Texas transportation agency has supplies and equipment prepped for winter weather

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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